Classifications of Disease Types


02 Apr 2018

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  • Hibban Zaffar

Classifying diseases

A disease is the modification of the structure and function where it affects the body from working normally in the body’s system. The characteristics of a disease can be shown from particular signs and symptoms. These diseases are classified into different types.

Acquired disease:

This is where the disease is not present from birth therefore it is not inherited. These factors can occur from the external environment. These are diseases that can be passed on through communicable and non-communicable means.

Acquired disease corresponds with infectious disease as it is non-genetic. An example of an acquired disease is HIV. HIV is a sexual transmitted disease that can be passed from unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusions etc. This disease is classified to be acquired.

Congenital disease:

This is where the disease is present from birth. This can be genetic or non-genetic. There are many conditions that can be passed in this way. One of them like sickle cell anaemia is an inherited lifelong disease. The sickle cells are sticky and stiff so they block the blood flow in the blood vessels. The blood flow that is blocked can cause pain and organ damage. This is more likely to develop into heart disease.

Infectious diseases:

This can be caused from harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Infectious diseases can be transferred from person to person. Basically the diseases a person can ‘catch’. The spread of diseases can be categorized into direct contact (person to person) and indirect contact (spread through the air or touching an infected surface).

Direct contact:

Direct contact happens when the infected person transmits the microorganisms to another person without a contaminated object or person.

Person to person contact: Direct contact through person to person contact can occur by touching the infected person or from the secretion of bodily fluids. Another way is the spray of droplets that can spread an infectious disease which can occur from coughing and sneezing. The common cold is one example of the spread of an infectious disease.

If the spread of droplets from an infected person reaches the eyes, nose or mouth of a normal person, it can cause symptoms of the illness. The droplets can move up to three feet as they’re large in size of 10 micrometres allowing them to stay in the air for a long. Droplet transference can develop from packed environments of which it clarifies in why respiratory infections are common during the months of winter.

Infectious diseases can be spread directly from animal to person. This can happen from being bitten or scratched from the contact of the infected animal. It can make you sick but in extreme cases could cause death.

One other way it is spread is from Mother to unborn child. The pathogens can pass through the placenta like the AIDS virus and the toxoplasmosis parasite.

Indirect contact:

Indirect contact is the transfer of infectious particles from person to person by an intermediate carrier. These pathogens can stay onto inanimate objects which include table tops, doorknobs etc.

Other infections come from the organisms that live within the environment but are not passed from person to person. Examples include fungal infections like histoplasmosis, with some bacterial infection like anthrax.

Airborne transmission happens from indirect contact where they travel through the air in miniature sized particles. These miniature sized particles ejected out in the air for even long periods of time.

Some disease can be transferred by bites and stings where the germs use the insect carriers. This can be mosquitos, fleas etc. The carriers are also known as vectors. Mosquitos are an example of carrying the malaria parasite. The vector pathogen spreads when the insect encounters that microorganism on its body or in its intestinal tract to where it land on the person and bites them. The insect’s body can be used to multiply the pathogen in order for it to infect a new host.

Other diseases by indirect contact can happen from food contamination. This can include food and water that is contaminated. Or also known as common-vehicle transmission that lets germs spread and cause the illness. Food can be called a vehicle if the germs spread in causing an illness like the contamination of E.coli.

A fomite is another indirect transmission of where the substance or the object is carrying microorganisms. These can be germs or parasites that transfer from one individual to the next. A fomite can be anything like a dirty cloth. These objects can assist in the spread of pathogenic organisms.

Diseases with environmental causes:

This is due to environmental factors that can be a part of forming a disease. This affects individuals that have a particular condition that is already genetically inherited. This can include diet, stress, physical and mental abuse, exposure to pathogens, toxins, radiation and chemicals.

One example is asbestos that was used to insulate houses, factories and schools. Then it was realised of how dangerous the insulation can be where it was found to cause a type of cancer in the lungs called mesothelioma.

Degenerative diseases:

The structure or function deteriorating over time affecting the tissues or organs. It can take effect from body wear or your choice of regime like eating patterns or exercise. It often comes from the ageing process of the body wearing down as damages occur that can sometimes lead to pain or loss of use. An example can be osteoarthritis. Another example of degenerative diseases is Alzheimer’s where their ability is limited in perform daily activities without support.

The above describes each different types of diseases and infections. These groups are used by health professional to identify its relevance to its respective disease.

Classifying diseases provides an order of investigation and representation of the group the disease falls into.The infectious diseases are most common and present in most human beings. They are regularly treated through vaccines. They sometimes referred as protozoal.

With this in mind Infectious diseases have other ways of ‘infection’ and terms are used to classify the rate and/or action ofinfectious diseases. Putting diseases especially infectious diseases in to informative system of understanding and its actions can be overlapped with different meanings but by labelling them in sub-category will help professionals to develop diagnosis to the problem. Also diseases have different - rates, period it takes and area of spreading. Terms used are either:-

  • Acute disease
  • Chronic disease
  • Subacute disease
  • Latent disease
  • Communicable
  • Contagious

The table shows terms and definition of infectious diseases.

Factors that can influence the development of diseases and infections are Pathogens, environmental causes and where the cause is uncertain. Pathogens are germs or microbes (a disease agent). They can be pathogenic bacterial, fungal and viral. They can live in thriving conditions, have a lifecycle and the likelihood of developing within humans. They are parasitic in nature.

Another factor is 'environmental causes' are due to nutritional deficiency diseases, chronic dietary diseases and their relationship between conditions and disease. This may include impacts of pollutants and their effects, relationship between cancers and radiation or exposure to UV A and B radiation.

Where the cause is uncertain, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the cause like body degeneration. The degenerative have its classification.

The action of disease transmission and infections are prescribed with terms direct contact,indirect contact, spread through the air andspread through vectors. Also the direct contact by eating food or drinking contaminated liquid.

EBOLA is a viral haemorrhagic fever. The authorities classed this as a Group Adisease which means must be notified immediately by the infectorwithin5 days. The infected must be quarantined until medical clearance.

The source of infection for human is usually unknown for Ebola virus but secondary humaninfections occur through direct contact, spread by person to personspread withinfected blood or secretions, includingsemen. The transmission hasalso been reported originated through the use ofcontaminated needles and syringes.

The Ebola virus iscommunicable disease as long as blood andsecretions contain virus.

Virus hasbeen isolated in seminal fluid 60 daysafter the onset of infection.

All ages are susceptible to the virus. The duration ofimmunity after infection is unknown. The preventive measures are sparse and no vaccinesare available. It is currently found in West Africa and any intendingtravellers to this regionendemic areas should avoid contact withticks and rodents.

All infected persons should be cared for at thehospital VHF treatment centre. The drugIntravenous ribavirin may be useful for treatment purposes. Infected person shouldbe cared for in an isolationroom, preferably with negative pressureventilation, and non-essential staff andvisitors should be restricted. The highestlevel of barrier infection controlprecautions should be institutedincluding use of gowns, gloves, face shields andmasks.

For Ebola virus, no airborne transmission has beenreported. AHEPAfiltration is not an absolute requirementbut should be used if available.Discardingclothing and storing supplies isadvisable.The obligatory period of isolation should be exercised. The period of isolation for a Ebolaviral haemorrhagic feveris a minimum of two days without feverand a total of 21 days from onset ofillness. The incubation period of the causative disease agent is 2 to 21 days. TheMeticulous personal hygiene isnecessary. Abstinence from sexualintercourse is advised until genital fluidshave been shown to be free of the virus.

The Ebola virus has highfatality rate between 50–90%. The fever viruswidely distributed in Africa.The origins of the Ebola diseaseviruses is still unclear although itappears to have arisen in Africa.

Infectious agent: Ebola

Source of microorganisms: Infected persons and carriers

Mode of transmission route: Infected blood-borne route; blood and body fluids

Mode of transmission: Direct, contaminated blood

Authoritative Classify Group: A

It is astatutory requirement to gather and assess diseases function to ensure a correct disease is investigated and notification of severity of the disease is delivered. It is important and critical to adapt and understand a system which includes and uses 'disease properties' such as:-

  • infectious agent(s)
  • identification
  • incubation period
  • mode of transmission
  • period of communicability
  • susceptibility and resistance
  • etc.

Each disease are associated with the above includes the following sources, how diseases start by direct contact,Indirect contact, spread through the air, spread through vectors and food contamination.

The Ebola disease discussed shows how diseases can be classified to aid professionals to understand ways in which diseases can be treated, cured or eradicated. Thisfacilitatesconcisesharing of information that has been analysed by strength and the weakness of the disease attributes.

There are programmes designed to reduce and/or eradicate disease and their effectiveness. The output of this can be input to common systems. Having diseases labelled and grouped helps to analyse and treat an infected person. Although, classifying is not easy, there are so many disease parameters to think about, but having a breakdown of its function and source etc will help diagnosis.

A classification system for diseases database is very usefulfor reporting and monitoring diseases.This allows the world to compare and share data in a consistent and standard way - between professionals and hospitals. It provides common language to relay drug information against diseases.

The advantages of using a system is that all diseases are captured, tested and validated for cure or no cure. This disadvantage is the maintenance of the system and disease collection can be time consuming. However, having a system for classifying diseases etc. is a life-saver.

Harvard referencing:

Various authors, Acquired disorder, Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopaedia),, 06/10/14

Various authors, Congenital disorder, Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopaedia),, 06/10/14

Mayo Clinic Staff, Infectious diseases, Mayo Clinic,, 06/10/14

Various authors, Infection, Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopaedia),, 06/10/14

Unknown author, Environmental factors influencing the spread of communicable diseases, World Health Organization,, 06/10/14

Unknown author, Degenerative disorders,,, 06/10/14

Various authors, Degenerative disease, Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopaedia),, 06/10/14

A/Prof Heath Kelly, Dr Noel Bennett, Dr Sally Murray, Ms Kerry Ann O’Grady, May 2005, Guidelines for the Control of Infectious Diseases, Public Health Group,$FILE/bluebook.pdf,

Unknown author, Advantages and Disadvantages of Diagnosis and Labelling, Custom essay writing service,, 06/10/14


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