What are communicable diseases?

Communicable diseases are diseases that can be spread from one person to another and cause a large number of people to get sick. They are caused by germs like bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites or toxins. Germs that may cause communicable diseases are spread in a number of ways including:

  • physical contact with an infected person, through contact with skin (Staphylococcus aureus), sexual contact (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis), fecal/oral contact (rotavirus), or respiratory droplets (influenza, mumps)
  • contact with a contaminated surface or object (norovirus), food (salmonella, E. coli), blood (HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C), or water (cholera). 
  • bites from insects or animals capable of passing the disease (West Nile virus, Lyme disease and rabies); and       
  • through the air (tuberculosis and measles).

How are communicable diseases controlled on PEI?

The control of certain communicable diseases is required by law under the Public Health Act and Regulations of Prince Edward Island. The Chief Public Health Office (CPHO) prevents and controls these diseases through prevention programs like immunization and by monitoring and following up on cases when they are reported.   

Doctors, nurses, the laboratory and others report communicable diseases to the CPHO when they occur. The team at the CPHO collects any needed information and helps health care providers and others control the spread of the illness. 

How can I prevent communicable diseases from spreading?

You can do your part to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.  For example:

  • Make sure your immunizations are up to date. Both children and adults need to be immunized at certain times.
  • Wash your hands often. 
  • Know how to prepare food safely. 
  • Practice safer sex.
  • Avoid contact with wildlife (such as feeding or petting wild animals) and make sure your pets stay healthy by getting them vaccinated by a vet.


Published date: 
March 14, 2024
Health and Wellness

General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6414
Fax: 902-368-4121