Home » DIFFERENCE BETWEEN » Communicable vs Non-communicable Diseases-  24 Differences

Communicable vs Non-communicable Diseases-  24 Differences

Communicable vs Non-communicable Diseases-  24 Differences

Disease has always plagued humanity. Diseases are either contagious or not. Germs cause communicable diseases. Non-communicable diseases don’t spread through casual contact and don’t have an infectious cause. Communicable diseases have caused pandemics and epidemics throughout human history. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can cause these illnesses. Transmission can occur by inhalation, ingestion, skin-to-skin contact, sexual activity, mosquito or tick bites, and more. 

Non-communicable diseases are caused more by lifestyle, genetics, and environmental exposures. They cause the most deaths worldwide and start slowly. Non-communicable illnesses include cardiovascular, cancer, chronic respiratory, diabetes, mental health, and others. Non-communicable diseases are linked to unhealthy diets, inactivity, cigarette and alcohol use, environmental pollutants, genetic susceptibility, and socioeconomic status.

Non-communicable diseases are chronic and require long-term care, but communicable diseases may spread quickly, causing epidemics and requiring public health measures. However, communicable and noncommunicable disorders are not always clear-cut. Non-communicable diseases can be contagious, and certain communicable diseases can become chronic.

Focusing on communicable and non-communicable diseases improves global health. Vaccination efforts, greater sanitation and hygiene, more drinkable water, the eradication of disease-carrying vectors, and quick diagnosis and treatment help prevent infectious diseases. Non-communicable diseases require a more comprehensive strategy that promotes healthy lifestyles, detects and controls risk factors, and provides affordable and accessible treatment.

In conclusion, understanding communicable and non-communicable diseases is crucial for disease prevention and treatment. Non-communicable diseases, which are largely influenced by lifestyle and inherited factors, are not contagious. Both diseases threaten global health and require multi-pronged therapy. Education, prevention, and healthcare can lower the global burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and enhance global health.

S. No.


Communicable Diseases

Non-communicable Diseases



Diseases caused by infectious agents (pathogens) that can be transmitted from one person to another

Diseases not caused by infectious agents and cannot be transmitted from one person to another



Spread through direct or indirect contact with infected individuals, contaminated objects, or vectors (such as mosquitoes)

Not spread through direct contact or vectors; primarily influenced by genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors



Influenza, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria

Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease



Highly contagious and can spread rapidly

Not contagious and do not spread from person to person



Caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi

Not caused by specific infectious agents



Vaccination, hygiene practices, vector control

Lifestyle modifications, early detection, medication adherence



Antibiotics, antiviral drugs, antiparasitic drugs

Medications, surgery, lifestyle modifications


Public Health Focus

Outbreak management, contact tracing, immunization campaigns

Chronic disease management, health promotion, and prevention programs



Immunity can be acquired through infection or vaccination

No immunity acquired through direct exposure


Disease Control

Can be controlled or eliminated through public health measures

Require long-term management and control strategies


Global Impact

Major global health concerns, impact low-income countries

The leading cause of death worldwide, affect individuals across all income levels


Environmental Factors

Transmitted through environmental sources (water, air, vectors)

Less influenced by environmental factors



Can cause epidemics and pandemics

Not associated with epidemics or pandemics


Incubation Period

Can have varying incubation periods before symptoms appear

Generally no specific incubation period


Risk Factors

Exposure to infected individuals or vectors, poor sanitation, lack of immunization

Genetic predisposition, lifestyle choices (smoking, diet), environmental exposures


Disease Course

Acute or chronic course depending on the disease

Chronic diseases with progressive symptoms


Prevention Focus

Focus on interrupting transmission and controlling outbreaks

Focus on prevention, early detection, and disease management


Herd Immunity

Achieving herd immunity can reduce transmission in the population

No concept of achieving herd immunity


Primary Prevention

Vaccination, vector control, hygiene practices

Health education, risk factor modification


Public Health Interventions

Disease surveillance, outbreak investigations

Health promotion, screening programs, chronic disease management


Social Impact

Can have a significant social stigma and fear associated with the disease

May have social impact but less stigmatization



Used for early detection and prevention of outbreaks

Used for early detection and management of diseases


Global Initiatives

Global campaigns for disease eradication and control

Global initiatives for prevention and disease management


Impact on Healthcare System

Requires management of outbreaks, isolation, and quarantine measures

Requires long-term healthcare management, specialized services

Also read: Meningitis vs Encephalitis- 20 Differences

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) 

Q1. What are Communicable diseases?

Microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungus, and parasites cause communicable diseases. They can spread by direct or indirect contact, airborne vectors, or insects.

What illnesses are communicable?

Influenza, TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, measles, chickenpox, gonorrhea, and syphilis are infectious illnesses.

Q3.How do communicable diseases spread?

Coughing, sneezing, contaminated food and drink, sexual contact, and vectors like mosquitoes and ticks spread communicable illnesses.

Q4. What are non-communicable diseases?

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are illnesses that are not contagious. Lifestyle, genetics, or both often cause them.

Q5. What are some examples of non-communicable diseases?

Non-communicable illnesses include heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, COPD, diabetes, and mental health problems including depression and anxiety.

Q6.What are the risk factors for communicable diseases?

Poor sanitation and hygiene, lack of clean water, overcrowding, impaired immune systems, unprotected sexual activity, and vector or polluted settings are communicable disease risk factors.

Q7. What are the risk factors for non-communicable diseases?

Unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, cigarette and alcohol use, environmental contaminants, genetic predisposition, poverty, and poor healthcare access are risk factors for non-communicable illnesses

Q8. Can communicable diseases become non-communicable?

Chronic illnesses can become non-communicable. HIV/AIDS, a communicable disease, can become chronic and require long-term therapy.

Q9. Can non-communicable diseases be prevented?

Healthy lifestyle choices including eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and getting regular checkups help prevent many non-communicable illnesses.

Q10. Are communicable illnesses worse than non-communicable ones?

The health hazards of communicable and non-communicable diseases vary with disease, population, and healthcare resources. Non-communicable diseases are persistent and can cause long-term health issues, whereas communicable infections can spread quickly.

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