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12 Things You Think Are Contagious—But Aren’t

Reader's Digest Canada Logo By Dawn Yanek of Reader's Digest Canada | Slide 1 of 13: If you're not sure what condition someone has and you're not a medical professional, you probably won't be able to tell. Visible symptoms for contagious and non-contagious diseases can seem identical, and the mode of transmission depends on the particular disease. 'There is not a single relationship between the cause of an infection and its contagiousness, as there are bacterial diseases that are contagious and others that are not,' explains Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease physician and Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, adding that the same is true for the world's smorgasbord of viruses. And then there are the conditions caused by a malfunctioning immune system or environmental factors. The bottom line: It's never a bad idea to take safety precautions. 'Overall,' says Dr. Adalja, 'being vaccinated and frequent handwashing are good practices regardless.' Check out these 14 diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands.

How can you tell if something's contagious?

If you're not sure what condition someone has and you're not a medical professional, you probably won't be able to tell. Visible symptoms for contagious and non-contagious diseases can seem identical, and the mode of transmission depends on the particular disease. 'There is not a single relationship between the cause of an infection and its contagiousness, as there are bacterial diseases that are contagious and others that are not,' explains Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease physician and Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, adding that the same is true for the world's smorgasbord of viruses. And then there are the conditions caused by a malfunctioning immune system or environmental factors. The bottom line: It's never a bad idea to take safety precautions. 'Overall,' says Dr. Adalja, 'being vaccinated and frequent handwashing are good practices regardless.' Check out these 14 diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands.
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