These are some of few words hitting the news headlines both in the paper and electronic media since last few months . Few of you would be wondering what these terms are. This article is meant to make you understand the terms and give you some clarity about distinction of those that are interchangeable. We would start of with what a microbe is , transmission and containment.

Communicable v/s non communicable

Any one with basic knowledge would know what communicate means literally .But in medical context it means to give to another or transmit. Common communicable diseases are caused by either by a virus or bacteria ( measles, chicken pox,tuberculosis).  Non communicable if an opposite of that they generally determined by genetic and environmental factors (diabetes, cancer). Out these two non communicable diseases cause 70 % of deaths globally.

Infectious diseases

They are diseases caused by microbes which can either be a virus or a bacteria effecting the body continuum leading to sickness. They pass between humans or from animals to humans. Why are they dangerous? they kill a lot number of people in a specified time period than the non communicable diseases.

Infectious v/s contagious

These are interchangeable words which we hear a lot from the government and those sitting in the media discussions, however there is flaw to it.All contagious diseases are infectious but not all infectious diseases are contagious. Contagious comes from the Latin contagious meaning touching or contact, for example malaria is infectious but not contagious like it doesn’t spread by touch or contact. The present COVID19 is contagious.hope you got some idea.


All infectious diseases are transmittable, they choose different modes off transmission depending on their sustainability and mode of entry. Most of respiratory infections (covid19, swine flu, tuberculosis) transmit through respiratory droplets when you sneeze or cough and contact like touching the infected surfaces. Blood infecting microbes choose direct blood contact ( HIV,HEPATITIS B)  or through a vector like mosquito ( malaria, dengue). Intestine related infections transmit through contact with infected faeces ( viral diarrhoea).

Epidemic, Pandemic,endemic

When you have a disease effecting many people at the same time in a geographical region or community its epidemic and when the same disease effects countries or continents it turned to be pandemic. The present COVID19 was an epidemic in wuhan city China to start with later moved on to become a present pandemic. There is other subset where the diseases shows continuous presence in a community and is called an endemic.

Quarantine v/s isolation

Both these terms come under preventive strategies. To start of we isolate our self once we have a disease to prevent infecting others. But when it becomes a wide spread problem and health emergency. Governments and local health authorities impose strict isolation where restriction of movement which is quarantine. Quarantine is a hard and fast rule that is imposed while isolation is a self imposed one.s

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