An airborne disease is any disease that is caused by pathogens that can be transmitted through the air. Such diseases include many of considerable importance both in human and veterinary medicine. The relevant pathogens may be viruses, bacteria, or fungi, and they may be spread through breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, raising of dust, spraying of liquids, toilet flushing or any activities which generates aerosol particles or droplets. Human airborne diseases do not include conditions caused by air pollution such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), gases and any airborne particles, though their study and prevention may help inform the science of airborne disease transmission.
Airborne diseases include any that are caused via transmission through the air. Many airborne diseases are of great medical importance. The pathogens transmitted may be any kind of microbe, and they may be spread in aerosols, dust or liquids. The aerosols might be generated from sources of infection such as the bodily secretions of an infected animal or person, or biological wastes such as accumulate in lofts, caves, garbage and the like. Such infected aerosols may stay suspended in air currents long enough to travel for considerable distances, though the rate of infection decreases sharply with the distance between the source and the organism infected.
Airborne pathogens or allergens often cause inflammation in the nose, throat, sinuses and the lungs. This is caused by the inhalation of these pathogens that affect a person's respiratory system or even the rest of the body. Sinus congestion, coughing and sore throats are examples of inflammation of the upper respiratory air way due to these airborne agents. Air pollution plays a significant role in airborne diseases which is linked to asthma. Pollutants are said to influence lung function by increasing air way inflammation.
Airborne diseases can also affect non-humans. For example, Newcastle disease is an avian disease that affects many types of domestic poultry worldwide which is transmitted via airborne contamination. Often, airborne pathogens or allergens cause inflammation in the nose, throat, sinuses, and the upper airway lungs. Upper airway inflammation causes coughing congestion, and sore throat. This is caused by the inhalation of these pathogens that affect a person's respiratory system or even the rest of the body. Sinus congestion, coughing and sore throats are examples of inflammation of the upper respiratory air way due to these airborne agents.
Airborne transmission of disease depends on several physical variables endemic to the infectious particle. Environmental factors influence the efficacy of airborne disease transmission; the most evident environmental conditions are temperature and relative humidity. The sum of all the factors that influence temperature and humidity, either meteorological (outdoor) or human (indoor), as well as other circumstances influencing the spread of the droplets containing the infectious particles, as winds, or human behavior, sum up the factors influencing the transmission of airborne diseases.
UV is harmful to both viruses and bacteria. UV incidence can determine the survival of the infectious particles, so that in those territories with a higher average of sunshine daily hours, and closer to the equator, some particles lose their infectious ability. Infectious particles show an increased survival in the presence of UV light at higher relative humidity levels. It is thought to be due to the protective effect of larger particle sizes, as evaporation would be less at these higher RH levels, showing a protective effect of a thicker water coat.
Socioeconomics and living conditions. They have a minor role in airborne diseases transmission, but they also have to be taken in consideration. Dwelling is an important aspect. In cities the spread of diseases are faster than in rural areas and outskirts. Normally, cities enclose quarters of buildings, in which the transmission of the viral and bacterial diseases among the neighborhoods are uncomplicated. However, suburban areas are generally more favorable for higher airborne fungal spores.
Some ways to prevent airborne diseases include washing hands, using appropriate hand disinfection, getting regular immunizations against diseases believed to be locally present, wearing a respirator and limiting time spent in the presence of any patient likely to be a source of infection. Exposure to a patient or animal with an airborne disease does not guarantee receiving the disease. Because of the changes in host immunity and how much the host was exposed to the particles in the air makes a difference to how the disease affects the body.
Antibiotics are not prescribed for patients to control viral infections. They may however be prescribed to a flu patient for instance, to control or prevent bacterial secondary infections. They also may be used in dealing with air-borne bacterial primary infections, such as pneumonic plague.
Additionally the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told consumers about vaccination and following careful hygiene and sanitation protocols for airborne disease prevention. Consumers also have access to preventive measures like UV Air purification devices that FDA and EPA-certified laboratory test data has verified as effective in inactivating a broad array of airborne infectious diseases. Many public health specialists recommend social distancing to reduce the transmission of airborne infections.