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How to Prevent Communicable Diseases
December 2011
How to Prevent Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases are infections in the body that can spread from person to person. Some of the common communicable diseases seen in Hong Kong include influenza, chicken pox, hand foot and mouth disease and hepatitis A & B.

Mode of transmission
Communicable diseases are often spread through air, saliva, urine, feces, and blood.

For influenza, chicken pox and hand foot and mouth disease, the diseases are mainly spread through sneezes, coughs and droplets in crowded or poorly ventilated areas. The infection may also be spread from person to person by direct contact with the secretions of infected persons.

In the case of hepatitis A, the common modes of transmission are consuming water or food, especially seafood with fecal contamination. For hepatitis B, routes of transmission include perinatal transmission, i.e. a carrier mother transmitting the virus to an infant, blood contact and unprotected sexual contact with a hepatitis B carrier.


  1. Infected persons should consult a doctor to understand the condition and follow the doctor’s advice for treatment.
  2. Take adequate rest and drink plenty of water.
  3. Stay at home and refrain from work or school as advised by the doctor to prevent spreading the disease to others.

One should observe hygiene practices and consider having vaccination so as to reduce the chances of contracting a communicable disease or spreading it to others.

1. Personal hygiene:

  1. Keep hands clean and wash hands properly especially after sneezing.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  3. No spitting. Always wrap nasal and mouth discharges with tissue paper, and dispose of the tissue paper properly in a lidded rubbish bin.
  4. Wear mask when symptoms develop and especially when there is fever.
  5. Drink only boiled water and all food should be carefully cleaned and thoroughly cooked.
  6. Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes and combs. Do not share cups or eating utensils.

2. Environmental hygiene:
 Maintain good ventilation of indoor areas, and avoid attending crowded and poorly ventilated public places.

3. Vaccination: 
 The most effective prevention method is through vaccination.

  1. Influenza: There is effective influenza vaccine to prevent influenza and its complications. The vaccination should be repeated every year to maintain the protection. In general, a single shot is the standard regimen for adult and 1 or 2 shots (if required) for kids.
  2. Chickenpox: The vaccines are given in a series of 2 shots for adults, and 1 shot for kids.
  3. Hepatitis A: The vaccines are given in a series of 2 shots, usually 6 months apart.
  4. Hepatitis B: The vaccines are given in a series of 3 shots. Blood tests should be done before and after vaccination to ensure there is adequate antibody protection.
  5. There is also a combination vaccine of hepatitis A and B. The vaccine is given in a series of 3 shots.

The information given above is for general reference only. You may want to check with your doctor for further details on each vaccine type.

In fact, various vaccination programs are also available in the University each year:
- Hepatitis & Influenza Awareness Campaign
- Cervical Cancer Awareness Campaign

For more details, please contact the University clinic at 2358 6670 or email to

(This article is written by Health Concepts Ltd., the HKUST's medical clinic operator.)