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Diseases A to Z

The term disease broadly refers to any condition that impairs the normal functioning of the body.

For this reason, diseases are associated with the dysfunction of the body’s normal homeostatic processes (the state of steady internal, physical, chemical, and social conditions maintained by living systems.)

Though disease often refers to infectious disease (such as measles or tuberculosis) which may be acute (short-lasting) or chronic, it can also refer to chronic disease that is not contagious (such as diabetes or arthritis.)

Amebiases is a one-celled parasite infection of the intestines. Only about 10-20% of people who are infected develop symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Loose poop
  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach cramping

Amebiases is spread through contaminated food or water or contact with an infected person’s poop.

Learn more about amebiases from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is food-borne botulism?

The bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which is found throughout the environment (i.e. soil and water) produces a toxin which is the cause of food-borne botulism. Botulism is an illness that can result in paralysis of the central nervous system, leading to organ failure and even death. Food or drink that contains the botulism toxin can cause food-borne botulism. Although rare, food-borne botulism is a serious health threat requiring medical attention.


The following foods have been found to be connected to cases of food-borne botulism:

  • Improperly canned or preserved low-acid foods (i.e. corn, peas, tomatoes, fish)
  • Improperly handled and stored foods kept in oils (i.e. vegetables, herbs, spices)
  • Improperly stored low-acid juices (i.e. carrot juice)
  • Improperly handled and stored baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil
  • Honey (pasteurized or unpasteurized) is a concern to infants under the age of one year as it has been linked to infant botulism. Honey cannot support the growth of Clostridium botulinum, but once ingested by a baby, the bacterium can produce the toxin causing illness.

Food-borne botulism cannot be spread from person-to-person.


  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Nausea or vomiting, sometimes accompanied by diarrhea
  • Trouble breathing/Respiratory failure
  • Heart failure/Cardiac failure
  • Paralysis starting from the top of the body, moving downwards
  • Death Symptoms can begin anywhere from 6 hours after eating food containing the botulism toxin to 10 days afterwards. Usually the onset of symptoms occurs with 12 to 36 hours.

Food-borne botulism symptoms can be long term, lasting for weeks or months.

Campylobacter is a bacterial infection in the intestinal tract.

Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting

Campylobacter is spread through contaminated food or water, or contact with infected poop.

Learn more about Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter) from Health Canada.

Chickenpox is a common and contagious viral infection.

Symptoms may include:

  • Mild fever
  • Itchy rash of red spots that turn into fluid filled blister and crust over

Chickenpox is spread through contact with the blisters or spit of an infected person, contact with contaminated surfaces, or breathing air that is contaminated with the virus.

View our chickenpox fact sheet or learn more about chickenpox from the Canadian Paediatric Society.

C. diff is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and other intestinal conditions. It is one of the most common infections found in hospitals and long term care homes.

Many infected people will not show symptoms. For others, symptoms may include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Fever  

C. diff is spread through contact with infected poop, including surfaces that have come into contact with infected poop.

Learn more about Clostridium Difficile from Health Canada.

Symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Low grade fever
  • Watery eyes
  • Tiredness
  • Mild sore throat

The common cold is spread by coughing or sneezing, or by touching your eyes, nose or mouth after contact with a contaminated surface.

Learn more about colds in children from the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. The first known case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.[6] The disease quickly spread worldwide, resulting in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the “common cold” or more severe illnesses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Learn more about COVID-19

Cryptosporidiosis is an intestinal infection caused by microscopic parasites.

Some infected people do not show symptoms. For others, symptoms may include:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Fever

Cryptosporidiosis is spread through contaminated drinking water, eating raw or undercooked meats, sexual contact, or touching your mouth with contaminated hands.

Learn more about cryptosporidiosis from Ontario Health.

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a parasite.

Symptoms may include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Tiredness

Cyclosporiasis is spread through contaminated food or water, including fresh fruits and vegetables that have not been properly washed.

Learn more about cyclosporiasis from Health Canada.

Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is very serious and often fatal.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Severe weakness
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Ebola is extremely contagious. It is spread by contact with infected blood or bodily fluids, contaminated medical equipment, unprotected sexual contact, and contact with infected animals or surfaces.

Learn more about Ebola virus disease from Health Canada.

E. Coli is a bacteria that causes illness in the stomach and intestines, and can sometimes lead to kidney failure or blood infection.

Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches

E. Coli spread through contaminated food and water or contact with infected poop.

Learn more about E. Coli infection from Health Canada.

E Coli Factsheet (PDF)

Fifth disease is a common childhood infection caused by the parvovirus B19. It can be a concern if you are pregnant and have not had the infection before.

Some adults may not show symptoms. For others, especially children, symptoms may include:

  • Very red rash on the cheeks
  • Lace-like rash on the body and arms that may be itchy
  • Slight fever

 Fifth disease is spread through coughing and sneezing, or contact with a contaminated surface.

View our fifth disease fact sheet or learn more about fifth disease from the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Gastroenteritis is an upset stomach. A number of germs can cause gastroenteritis.

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Most of the germs that cause gastroenteritis are spread by contact with an infected person.

Learn more about gastroenteritis in adults and older children from HealthLink BC.

Giardiasis is a gastrointestinal infection caused by a parasite. It is sometimes known as ‘beaver fever’.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fast and frequent bouts of watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Giardia parasites are spread by contaminated food or water including from lakes, ponds or streams.

Learn more about giardiasis from Ontario Health.

Giardis Fact Sheet (PDF)

Group A Streptococcus (Strep) is a bacteria that causes a number of illnesses, depending on where the infection happens. Group A Strep infection can be mild (e.g., strep throat) or serious ( e.g., necrotizing fasciitis/flesh eating disease). 

Learn more about Group A Streptococcal (GAS) Disease from Health Canada

Strep Throat Fact Sheet

Haemophilus influenza disease is a bacterial infection. Infection may be contained to the nose (sinuses), lungs or ears, or may ‘invade’ other parts of the body. Invasive haemophilus influenzae infections are very serious and can spread to the brain, heart, bones and skin. There is a vaccine to prevent haemophilus influenzae.

Symptoms of local infections may include:

  • Sore ears and fever (ear infection)
  • Plugged nose and headaches (sinus infection)
  • Coughing up mucous and difficulty breathing (lung infection/pneumonia)

Symptoms of invasive infections may include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Drowsiness
  • Fussiness
  • Intense headache
  • Vomiting
  • Stiff neck and back

Haemophilus influenzae spreads through coughing and sneezing, or touching your face with contaminated hands.

Learn more about haemophilus influenzae disease from Health Canada.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common viral infection that usually affects children.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Mouth sores
  • Body rash

HFMD is spread through coughing and sneezing, or contact with surfaces contaminated by infected poop or bodily fluids. 

Learn more about hand, foot and mouth disease from the Canadian Paediatric Society.

HFMD Factsheet 

Hantavirus is a serious illness that can progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Trouble breathing, chest pain, and/or severe coughing in the later stages

Hantavirus is mainly spread through contact with infected pee or poop from rodents such as mice and rats. This may include breathing in particles in the air, or coming into contact with it and touching your face.

Learn more about hantavirus from Health Canada.

Hantavirus Factsheet

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. About one out of four adults who get the virus are hospitalized because of it. There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A.

Symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Low or no energy
  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes)

Hepatitis A is most often spread through contaminated food or water.

Learn more about Hepatitis A from Health Canada. 

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus. Most adults with hepatitis B will fully recover, but some people may become chronic carriers of the virus. Chronic infection means that it does not do away. Over time, chronic hepatitis can cause permanent damage including liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. Learn more about hepatitis B from the Canadian Liver Foundation.

Hep B Factsheet

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by a virus. Over time, hepatitis C can cause permanent liver damage such as scarring (cirrhosis) or liver cancer. Learn more about hepatitis C basics from CATIE.

How you can get it
Hepatitis C is spread through blood to blood contact. It is a strong virus that can live outside the body for many days. This means that dried blood can also spread the virus. Some of the ways blood contact can happen include:

  • Sharing drug use equipment (needles, syringes, filters, cookers, acidifiers, alcohol swabs, tourniquets, water, pipes for smoking crack or crystal meth, and straws for snorting)
  • Sharing needles, ink or other equipment used for tattooing or piercing
  • Sharing personal items such as razors, nail clippers or toothbrushes
  • Having a blood transfusion before 1990
  • Needlestick injuries in health care workers
  • Unprotected sex where blood could be present such as rough sex, anal sex, from sores or having sex on your period
  • During pregnancy or childbirth

People with hepatitis C often do not have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in stomach
  • Nausea
  • Yellowish skin and eyes
  • Dark pee

Hepatitis C testing is done through a simple blood test. It can take up to three months after becoming infected to detect the virus in a blood test.

Treatment and follow-up
The Canadian Liver Foundation has found that newer hepatitis C treatments can achieve cure rates of over 90%. Your health care provider can speak to you about treatment options and the necessary follow-up for your situation.

Find information about herpes on our Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) page. 
Find information about HIV/AIDS on our Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) page. 
Find information about HPV on our Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) page. 

Impetigo is a skin infection caused by the group A streptococcal bacteria.

It usually appears as a skin rash of small, red bumps or blisters that ooze and crust over. The crust can look like dried honey.

Impetigo is spread by contact with the fluid from an infected person’s rash.  Towels, pillow cases and clothing can also spread this infection from person to person. 

Learn more about impetigo from the Canadian Paediatric Society. 

Impetigo Factsheet

Legionella is a bacteria that can cause two types of infections: Legionnaire’s Disease and Pontiac Fever.

Symptoms of Pontiac Fever include high fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches.

Symptoms of Legionnaire’s Disease are similar to Pontiac Fever but also include a serious cough that can lead to pneumonia.

Legionella bacteria is found throughout the environment, usually in water.  People get infected with Legionella when they breathe in water that is contaminated with the bacteria, usually through hot tubs, pools, air conditioning units and home hot water heaters.

Learn more about legionellosis from Ontario Health. 

Leprosy is a very slowly progressing infection caused by bacteria. It affects skin, nerves and mucous membranes. Antibiotics can be used to treat it. 

Symptoms may include changes to the skin including ulcers, colour changes, abnormal growths and numbness. Leprosy may progress to cause loss of fingers and toes, muscle weakness, paralysis, and blindness if not treated.

Leprosy is spread most often when infected individuals cough or sneeze and the droplets are breathed in by others.

Learn more about leprosy from Public Health Ontario.

Head lice are small insects that can live on your scalp. They do not cause illness. 

People with lice usually report that their heads are very itchy. The adult lice are small, but can sometimes be seen close to the scalp if you look closely. Small eggs (brown or yellow in colour) are harder to see. 

Head lice is spread when the adult insect crawls from person to person and begins to lay eggs. This can happen through sharing hairbrushes, combs or hats, or by close personal contact.

Learn more about head lice from the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Head Lice Factsheet

Listeria infection is a foodborne illness that can be very serious for pregnant women, people older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems. It is most commonly caused by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products.

Symptoms of listeriosis can start as early as 3 days after eating contaminated food. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Muscle aches

In severe cases, the infection can spread to the nervous system and cause stiff neck, confusion, headache and loss of balance.

Listeria is spread through contaminated food or water. The bacteria is found in soil, sewage and untreated water, and foods such as fish, meat, seafood, diary products and fruits and vegetables.

Learn more about listeriosis (listeria) from Health Canada and find infectious disease protocol from the Public Health Agency of Canada

Listeria Factsheet

Find information on our Ticks and Lyme Disease page. 

Malaria is a serious (sometimes fatal) infection caused by a virus. There is no vaccine to prevent it but there is medication you can take to prevent it if you are travelling to an area where it is common. 

Symptoms of malaria can be mild like fever, headache, chills and weakness but can be more serious including seizures, organ failure, trouble breathing and even death. 

Malaria is spread by mosquito bites in certain parts of the world. 

Learn more about malaria from Health Canada. 

Measles a highly contagious virus that causes a rash. It can also cause ear infections, pneumonia, brain infections, and death. A vaccine is available to prevent it. 

Symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Rash
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Red rash that begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body 

Measles can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. It can also live on a surface or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected.

Learn more about measles from Ontario Health.

Measles Factsheet

Invasive meningococcal disease is a rare but serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. The bacteria can cause serious illness like meningitis (infection of the brain lining) or septicemia (infection of the bloodstream). There is a vaccine to prevent meningococcal disease.

Symptoms of invasive meningococcal disease happen between 2-10 days after exposure. Symptoms may include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Intense headache
  • Vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • A skin rash that spreads rapidly and begins as reddish/purplish spots that don't disappear when pressed

Severe cases can result in hallucination, coma and, if untreated can lead to death.

Invasive meningococcal disease is through close, direct contact with someone who has the infection. People can be carriers of the bacteria without knowing it.

Learn more about invasive meningococcal disease from Health Canada.

Monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus caused by the Monkeypox virus (MPXV), typically transmitted from animals to humans, that causes a disease with symptoms similar to, but less severe than, smallpox. Monkeypox is typically mild and self-limiting, with most people recovering within 2-4 weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.

Monkeypox is typically found in parts of central and west Africa. It does not usually circulate in humans or animals in Canada.

Initial symptoms of monkeypox may include:

  • fever, chills
  • headache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • The above symptoms, followed by a rash or sores, usually one to three days later, on the palms of the hands, on the soles of the feet, inside the mouth, and/or on the genitals. In some cases, the rash is the first symptom.

Learn more about monkeypox from the Ministry of Health

Mononucleosis or “mono” is a contagious infection that is usually caused by the Epstein Barr virus. It can also be caused by other viruses.

Symptoms may include:

  • Severe tiredness and weakness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Enlargement of spleen and liver problems (rare)

Mono is most commonly spread through saliva when kissing, sharing drinks or sharing eating utensils. It can also be spread through sex, blood transfusions or organ transplants. 

Learn more about infectious mononucleosis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mono Factsheet

MRSA is a bacteria that is difficult to treat because it is resistant to some antibiotics. MRSA can infect the skin, the lungs, and in most severe cases, can infect the bloodstream and other vital organs.

The symptoms of a MRSA infection depend on the part of the body that is infected. In most cases it is hard to tell if an infection is due to MRSA or another type of bacteria without laboratory tests that your doctor can order. Most staph infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Painful
  • Warm to the touch
  • Full of pus or other drainage
  • Accompanied by a fever

MRSA is spread through close contact with an infected person or an object carrying the bacteria. Infection can spread in hospitals, other health care facilities and in the community where you live, work and go to school.

Learn more about MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Most people recover, but mumps can lead to serious complications. There is a vaccine to prevent mumps.

Symptoms of mumps usually appear 16 to 18 days after a person is exposed to the virus. Symptoms may include:

  • Painful and swollen salivary glands (located in your cheeks, near your jaw and below each ear)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tiredness
  • Having trouble chewing

Mumps is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People can catch it by breathing it in or by touching an infected surface then your nose or mouth.

Learn more about mumps from Health Canada.

Mumps Factsheet

Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus that causes illness in the stomach and intestines. It is sometimes called “Norwalk”. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain

Norovirus is spread through contact with an infected person's poop or vomit, which can happen through contact with an infected person, contact with an object or surface that an infected person has touched, or through contaminated food or water.

Learn more about norovirus from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Norovirus Factsheet 

Paratyphoid fever is a serious and life threatening infection caused by a bacteria from the Salmonella family. It causes severe stomach and intestinal illness. 

Symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Severe diarrhea or constipation
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Inflammation of internal organs (like liver and spleen) in serious cases
  • Tears and ruptures in the intestines in serious cases

The bacteria that causes Paratyphoid fever is present in the feces and urine of people infected with it. It can be passed from person to person through contact with infected feces, urine, food or water that is contaminated with the bacteria.

Learn more about paratyphoid fever from Public Health Ontario.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. Pertussis can be very dangerous for infants. There is a vaccine to prevent pertussis.

Pertussis starts out with a mild fever, runny nose, red watery eyes and a cough. It leads to serious coughing fits that can last for two to 8 weeks. The coughing fits may cause difficulty breathing, choking and vomiting.

Pertussis spreads easily through droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing by an infected person.

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an infection of the thin lining of the eyeball (conjunctiva). It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies or other irritants. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Pink or red eyes that appear swollen and feel irritated
  • Watery eyes
  • Thick pus draining from the eye

Pink eye that is caused by bacteria or viruses are very contagious and are spread person to person through contact with the infected eye fluid. Pink eye caused by an allergy or irritant can't be spread person to person. 

Learn more about conjunctivitis (pink eye) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Pink Eye Factsheet

Pinworms are small, white parasites (worms) that live and lay eggs in and around the rectum and anus (bum). They can be a common childhood infection and do not usually cause any serious problems. 

Pinworms are usually most active at night as they crawl out of the rectum and lay their eggs around the anus. Children may say that they are uncomfortable or have an itchy anus. They may be more irritable or cranky because their sleep is disturbed at night by the itching.

Pinworms are spread by contact with the pinworm eggs that are shed by people with the infection and then transferred to a person’s mouth. These eggs may be on surfaces or on hands and can live for up to two weeks out of a human body.

Learn more about pinworms from the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Pinworm Factsheet 

Polio is a disease caused by a virus. It starts in the throat and gut and can quickly spread through the blood, infecting the spinal cord and brain. Polio can cause nerve damage and paralyze a person for life. There is a vaccine to prevent polio.

Most people have no symptoms when they are infected. For others, symptoms may include:

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Sore throat

  • Stiffness in the neck

  • Muscle aches and pains

  • Headache

  • Nausea and vomiting 

Polio is spread through contaminated water or food, or through contact with feces from an infected person.

Learn more about polio from the Government of Canada. View The Story of Polio in Canada from the Canadian Public Health Association.

Polio Factsheet

Find information on our Rabies page. 

Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus. It is not caused by a worm or other parasite.

Ringworm usually looks like a red, raised patch of flaky skin that is very itchy and appears to have a raised edge.

Ringworm fungi is spread by touch. It can transfer when someone scratches their skin with fingernails that have the fungi attached. Cats and dogs can also spread ringworm fungi to humans.

Learn more about ringworm from the Canadian Paediatric Society. 

Ringworm Factsheet 

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children. About 500,000 young children die because of rotavirus worldwide every year. There is a vaccine available to prevent Rotavirus infection.

Rotavirus often causes sudden fever and vomiting followed by diarrhea that can last up to a week. Children with diarrhea are at risk for becoming dehydrated and may need to be hospitalized.

Rotavirus enters the body through your mouth and is very contagious. Contaminated hands or objects are major sources of contact. 

Learn more about rotavirus from the Canadian Paediatric Society. 

Rubella is a viral infection that causes a rash on the face and neck and may develop into serious disease. Rubella in pregnancy is very dangerous and can cause serious complications for both the pregnant parent and unborn child. A vaccine is available to prevent Rubella.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever 
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Rash on the face and neck
  • Aches and pains
  • Swelling of the joints (lifelong arthritis can be a potential complication)

Rubella virus can be spread when a person with the infection coughs or sneezes. It can be picked up from contaminated surfaces and passed when people do not wash their hands properly before touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Learn more about rubella from the Government of Canada.

Rubella Factsheet

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that causes stomach and intestinal upset. There are many types of Salmonella bacteria that can cause illness.

The most common symptoms of salmonella include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

Salmonella is spread through eating contaminated foods such as raw or under cooked eggs or egg products, meat, poultry, raw fruit and vegetables.

Learn more about salmonellosis (salmonella) from the Government of Canada.

Salmonella Factsheet

Scabies is a parasite infection of the skin caused by the human itch mite. 

Scabies is usually a pimple-like rash on the skin that is very itchy. There may appear to be red lines in the rash. This is usually where the human itch mite travels, lays eggs, and leaves it’s waste.

Scabies usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.

Learn more about scabies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Scabies Factsheet

Scarlet fever (scarlatina) is a bacterial infection caused by Group A streptococcus, the same bacteria that causes strep throat.

Scarlet fever is known to cause a classic “sandpaper”-like rash to affected body parts after a day or two of fever and sore throat. This illness normally affects children and can also cause them to have a “strawberry” tongue that looks swollen, red and bumpy like a strawberry.

The Group A streptococcus bacteria is spread by contact with a person who has the infection, through sneezing or coughing, or by touching surfaces that are contaminated with the bacteria and then touching your face.

Read Scarlet Fever: All You Need to Know from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Scarlet Fever Factsheet

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful reactivation of a person’s chicken pox (varicella-zoster) virus. There is a vaccine to prevent shingles.

Shingles usually presents in the form of itching, burning, redness, swelling and blistering of an area of the skin that is accompanied by pain. Some people are left with permanent pain even after the shingles has healed.

The virus is spread through contact with the fluid in the blisters. Once the blisters crust over, the person is no longer infectious. The virus is otherwise not able to pass from person to person.

Learn more about shingles (herpes zoster) from the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

Strep throat is a common infection that often affects more children than adults. It is caused by the bacteria called Group A Streptococcus. Antibiotics can be used to treat this infection.

Not all sore throats are Strep throat. Strep throat usually feels like a very sore throat with fever and swollen lymph nodes. It can be very difficult to swallow with Strep throat.

Streptococcus bacteria can be passed through the air or by contact with surfaces after infected people cough or sneeze.

Learn more about strep throat from the Canadian Paediatric Society. 

Strep Throat Factsheet

Find information about syphilis on our Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) page. 

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine.

Not everyone who breathes in the TB germs becomes sick. As a result, there are two forms of TB: latent TB and active TB.

People with latent TB infection have TB germs in their body, but they are not sick because the germs are not active.  These people do not have symptoms of TB disease, and they cannot spread the germs to others. They may develop TB disease in the future. They are often prescribed medication that will help prevent them from developing active TB in the future.

People with active TB disease are sick from TB germs that are multiplying (active) in the body. Symptoms of TB disease in the lungs may include coughing, chest pain, fever, weight loss and night sweats. People with TB disease of the lungs or throat are capable of spreading their germs to others through coughing, sneezing, singing etc. People with active TB are prescribed with medication to treat the disease.

Read more about TB from Health Canada

Tuberculosis Factsheet

West Nile virus (WNV) is an illness caused by a virus that is spread to humans and animals from the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito has usually fed on an infected bird. There is no cure for WNV but most people recover completely.

Most people, 70 to 80%, who are infected with WNV have no symptoms. Others experience very mild symptoms that can include mild headache, fever, swollen lymph glands and a rash. Rarely, in about 1% of people infected with WNV, individuals may experience severe illness that can involve the brain and spinal cord. In some cases, WNV has been fatal.

WNV is almost always spread by infected mosquitoes who feed on humans and animals. Rarely, it has been found to spread through blood transfusions, organ or tissue transplants, mothers to their unborn babies and by breastmilk, and to lab workers who have been required to handle infected specimens.

Find more information on our West Nile Virus page.

Yellow fever is a tropical disease caused by a flavivirus that attacks your liver. There is no cure for yellow fever but most people recover fully. A vaccine for people travelling to an area in the world where yellow fever is a problem.

Symptoms may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches 
  • Weakness

Yellow fever is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes in tropical areas of Africa and South America.

Learn more about yellow fever from the Government of Canada. 

Zika virus is a tropical illness that most people recover from in 2 to 7 days. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus.

Only 1 in 4 people are believed to show symptoms. If you are pregnant and have travelled to an affected area, see your health care provider. The main symptoms of Zika virus disease (after travel to an affected area in the world) include:

  • Low-grade fever (38.5°C or lower)
  • A flat, red rash on the skin that often starts on the face and spreads to the body
  • Short-term muscle or joint pain
  • Pain behind the eyes, conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • General symptoms, such as: weakness, lack of energy, headaches

Zika virus is mainly spread though the bite of an infected mosquito. A pregnant woman with Zika virus could transmit the illness to her baby through the placenta or during delivery. The Zika virus has also been transmitted through (although very rare):

  • sexual contact with an infected person
  • blood transfusions from infected donors

Learn more about Zika virus symptoms and treatment from the Public Health Agency of Canada.