What is a communicable disease?

A communicable disease is one that is spread from one person to another through a variety of ways that include: contact with blood and bodily fluids; breathing in an airborne virus; or by being bitten by an insect.

Reporting of cases of communicable disease is important in the planning and evaluation of disease prevention and control programs, in the assurance of appropriate medical therapy, and in the detection of outbreaks. Maryland law mandates healthcare providers and laboratories to report certain diseases or conditions to their local health department. Some examples of reportable communicable diseases include Hepatitis A, B & C, influenza, measles, and salmonella and other food borne illnesses.

List of Reportable Diseases in Maryland and Instructions for Reporting

How do these communicable diseases spread?

How these diseases spread depends on the specific disease or infectious agent. Some ways in which communicable diseases spread are by:

  • Physical contact with an infected person, such as through touch (e.g. staphylococcus), sexual intercourse (e.g. chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV), fecal/oral transmission (hepatitis A), or respiratory droplets (e.g. influenza, tuberculosis)
  • Contact with a contaminated surface or object (e.g. Norwalk virus), food (e.g. salmonella, E. coli), blood e.g. (HIV, hepatitis B), or water (e.g. cholera);
  • Bites from insects or animals capable of transmitting the disease (e.g. Zika Virus, West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease); and
  • Travel through the air (e.g. tuberculosis, measles).

How do I report cases of a communicable disease?

To report communicable diseases, potential outbreaks and other conditions to the Cecil County Health Department call (410) 996-5100.