What is an infectious disease?

An infectious disease is spread from one person to another through various ways, including contact with blood and bodily fluids, breathing in an airborne virus, or being bitten by an insect.

Reporting infectious disease cases is essential in planning and evaluating disease prevention and control programs, in the assurance of appropriate medical therapy, and in detecting 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, salmonella, and other food-borne illnesses.

List of Reportable Diseases in Maryland and Instructions for Reporting

How do these infectious diseases spread?

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

  • 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 an infectious disease?

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