Contagious Diseases 


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Very simply put, any disease that can be transferred from person to person is considered a contagious disease. A contagious disease emergency can affect many people. It can cause mild illness, hospitalization, or death in rare cases.In the event of an infectious disease emergency, the Palm Beach County Health Department will provide up-to-date information and instructions to the public through media and public outreach sources.

Palm Beach County Health Department

You are required to notify the County Health Department to report certain diseases/conditions, several of which you will find listed below. You can call them anytime, at 561-840-4500. You can also find valuable information by visiting their website at

The latest list reveals nearly 100 reportable diseases/conditions in Florida. Some of the more important ones are listed below.



The measles virus is very contagious because it can infiltrate the mucosal tissues of the nose and throat. Specific measles symptoms include a dry cough, fever, light sensitivity, runny nose, skin rash and white spots with blue centers (Koplik spots) found in the cheek tissues. Also, a large skin rash develops. These symptoms typically develop 10 to 12 days after initial exposure to the measles virus.

People can receive the measles vaccine within three days of the virus exposure. Also, medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can reduce fevers while antibiotic medications can treat the pneumonia and ear infections that can result when suffering from the measles. Isolate the infected person so that he does not spread the measles virus to other people.

Chicken Pox

The chicken pox is an infectious disease that used to affect approximately four million children each year. Less children are infected today with the advent of the chicken pox vaccine. Despite this, the chicken pox still remains very contagious.

Symptoms of the chicken pox include a red rash all over the body that appears to look like insect bites. Sometimes, small liquid-containing blisters can form, break and exude fluid. A headache, fever, stomach pain, loss of appetite, irritability and a dry cough are other chicken pox symptoms.

Healthy children require no treatment. However, antihistamine medications may be used to calm the itching. Depending on the severity of the chicken pox, antiviral medications such as acyclovir and intravenous (through the vein) immune globulin may be used to treat the chicken pox.



Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious infectious disease affecting the respiratory tract. Fever, cough, runny nose, stuffy nose, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting are just some symptoms of influenza.

Influenza treatment involves rest and drinking plenty of fluids. Also, antiviral medications such as oseltamivir can be used to attack the virus the causes influenza.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis is an airborne disease that affects 10 people out of every 100,000 people in the United States. This disease occurs when a person inhales infected respiratory droplets.

Symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis include coughing up blood or phlegm, excessive night sweats, fever, weight loss and tiredness. This disease can also lead to chest pain, wheezing and problems breathing.   

The exact cause for pulmonary tuberculosis is the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. The elderly, infants and those people with a weakened immune systems have a risk for getting tuberculosis.   

Treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis involves taking antibiotic medications such as isoniazid or rifampin to eliminate the bacteria. This treatment may be for more than six months, depending upon the severity of the tuberculosis.


Mumps refers to an infection that infiltrates the parotid glands, paired salivary glands on either side of the face. Outbreaks of mumps still occur in the United States and globally despite the availability of a vaccine to prevent it.

Specific symptoms of the mumps include fever, swollen and painful glands on both or either side of the face, fatigue, weakness and difficulty swallowing or chewing. In some instances, the swollen glands may make the cheeks actually appear to puff out.   

The mumps virus is responsible for causing mumps. Saliva droplets that are sprayed into the air when sneezing or coughing can also spread this virus. Sometimes using contaminated objects such as cups or utensils can also lead to the mumps.   

No treatment is necessary for the mumps virus as it eventually resolves on its own.   

Home complications of mumps include miscarriage, deafness, encephalitis (a brain infection), pancreatitis (a pancreatic inflammation) and orchitis (testicular swelling).

Hemorrhagic Fever

Viruses belonging to four different categories cause viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF). Early symptoms are muscle aches and fever. However, as the virus progresses, it often causes internal and external bleeding, because VHF affects the vascular system of the body. These viruses make the blood vessels porous, which can lead to minor or massive bleeding. Patients bleed under the skin, internally, or even from the eyes or mouth with this affliction. VHF affects internal organs, particularly the liver, lungs and kidneys. It is often fatal.


Known more commonly as pinkeye, conjunctivitis can occur due to an infection by a virus or bacterium. The disease can produce a discharge from the eye, as well as making it feel itchy and burning, the National Institutes of Health reports. Swelling also may occur. The condition typically clears itself, but may need antibiotic treatment if caused by a bacterium.


Viral meningitis, is an inflammation of the meninges or membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. Bacteria and fungus can also cause meningitis. Sometimes viral meningitis spreads through contact with surfaces contaminated. It also spreads through saliva, mucus or feces. The virus, called enteroviruses multiplies in the digestive tract. Symptoms include fever, stiff neck, headache, vomiting, nausea and sometimes seizures. Ways to prevent meningitis include washing hands and avoiding contact with sick individuals. Proper cleansing of contaminated surfaces also proves important.


The sexually transmitted disease, genital herpes occurs through infection with the herpes simplex virus type 2, or HSV-2. This disease typically affects the anus, buttocks and genitals. Oral herpes, more commonly called "cold sores," are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 and affect the facial area, particularly the mouth. Herpes cannot be cured, but over time, most people have fewer and less severe outbreaks of the disease. Doctors may treat the symptoms with medications.

To find out how to prepare yourself and your family for a contagious disease emergency, visit the Center for Disease Control's Web page at