Polio (A.K.A. Poliomyelitis) is an extremely contagious and debilitating disease caused by the polio virus. It occasionally causes death but the infection leads to paralysis, death results if the respiratory muscles are paralyzed. Polio is common in developing countries like Nigeria where sanitation is poor and potable water is in short supply.
The virus attacks the brain and the spinal cord.
Polio is only found in human and spreads from person to person through food, water and hands contaminated by faeces(stool) containing the virus. Uncovered food can also be contaminated by flies carrying faces containing the virus. People resident in developed countries rarely get polio infection except on visit to a developing country, but it can then spread within that developed country through pharyngeal secretions, hence it can spread through kissing.
2. Hepatitis B.
This disease is caused by Hepatitis B virus and can spread from adult to adult, children to children, children to adult (vice versa) and from mother to offspring. The spread is usually through blood, blood products, semen, vaginal fluids, saliva and breast milk. Thus the infection can also spread though kissing.
A mother can also pass the infection to the child in the womb but this is rarely. Infection of the child occurs more during delivery if the mother’s blood passes into the child blood, or the child swallows some of the mother’s blood or by innoculation. The virus also passes from mother to child through breast milk.
We would like to emphasise that these mothers are mostly the virus carriers – that is – they have the virus in their body but are not sick of the disease.
The infection of the baby by the mother can be prevented if the doctor is aware of the condition of the woman and appropriate management applied – like method of delivery and full vaccination of the child against Hepatitis B.
3. Hepatitis C
The disease is caused by Hepatitis C virus and spreads mainly through transfusion of blood and blood products, sexual intercourse and during child birth. The spread from mother to child occurs during delivery through passing of the mother’s blood into the child’s blood or through slight open wound to the child during delivery.
Prevention is possible if the mother was screened for Hepatitis C during ante-natal and appropriate measures taken to deliver the baby.
It could spread through kissing.
Syphilis is a very old disease caused by bacteria. Transmission is mainly during vaginal, anal or oral sexual contact. The disease spreads from person to person from the infected sore on the penis, inside the vagina and the mouth. The bacteria are also present in the saliva, semen, vaginal discharge and blood.
Thus, spread can be through sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal or rectal), kissing and other forms of foreplay. The bacteria easily penetrate the skin and the inside lining of the mouth, vagina and anus.
An infected pregnant woman can pass the disease to the unborn child- the bacteria pass through the placenta to the child in the womb.
Also the disease can spread through the transfusion of infected blood.
Finally the disease can be contracted by accidental contact by care-giver or other close contacts of an infected person touching infected materials or sore.
Pregnant women are usually tested for syphilis during antenatal and at delivery and given appropriate treatment if test is positive. Ante-natal case is therefore advised for every pregnant woman.
5. Common Cold
Common cold also called catarrh is very contagious but self-limiting and not life threatening. It is caused by viruses and spreads through sneezing and direct or indirect contact with affected persons. Indirect contact means contact with items contaminated by nasal discharges of affected persons.
The virus is contained in the saliva of the affected person, thus the infection can spread through kissing.
Meningitis is a highly contagious disease which spreads from person to person. It is a disease of the cover of the brain and spinal cord. It is found all over the world but more common in crowded communities with poor ventilation. In Nigeria,it is more common in the northern part which lies within the “Meningitis Belt”. People in all ages can have the disease but those under 30 years are more at risk.
Meningitis is caused by several agents on individual basis. It could be due to bacteria, virus, fungi, parasites or even injuries or cancer.
The way meningitis spreads from person to person depends on the agent that caused the disease. If caused` by bacteria, it will spread through coughing, sneezing if close to the sick person or discharges can be blown as droplets later to other persons. It can also spread through kissing, sharing lip sticks/lip savers, tooth brushes etc. If caused by a virus, it spreads by faecal (Stool) contamination of hands resulting from failure to wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing baby diapers. There are other means of spread but these two are the most important.
Tuberculosis is caused by a germ called mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is found all over the world and has survived so because it has the ability to develop resistance to drugs if treatment is not strictly followed by those who have the disease. The disease is curable.
TB spreads from person to person through spit of an infected person that has dried up. When dried up, it with the germs it contains can be blown by wind and any one can breathe it in. Very rarely it can spread by direct contact with the saliva or cough of a person with the disease. Thus it can spread through kissing.
Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is often called the kissing disease. The virus that causes mono is transmitted through saliva, so you can get it through kissing, but you can also be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or by sharing a glass or food utensils with someone who has mono. However, mononucleosis isn’t as contagious as some infections, such as the common cold.
The disease is caused by a virus but it is not common in our country.
9. Genital Herpes
Herpes genitalis is caused by herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2, it is common in the 15 to 49 years age bracket.
It presents itself in the form of blisters affecting the penis, vagina, anus, rectum and mouth; the blisters break down to form painful sores which last for about a week or two. The sores are highly infectious as they contain the virus and you can infect yourself by touching the sores and then touching other parts of your body without washing your hands thoroughly first.