1-19. METHODS OF TRANSMISSION OF RESPIRATORY DISEASES
Respiratory diseases are transmitted by secretions of the respiratory tract,
particularly through close association with infected persons. The disease-producing
organisms leave the body of the ill person or the carrier in small droplets of moisture
during coughing, sneezing, or talking, and may be inhaled directly by other persons
(droplet infection). Some of the smaller droplets lose their moisture by evaporation and
become solid masses of dried germs. Being very light, these germ particles float in the
air for long periods of time. If inhaled by a susceptible person, they can cause disease
(airborne infection). Harmful organisms from the mouth or nose may also contaminate
hands, food, eating and drinking utensils, towels, and other articles by which the
disease-producing organisms may be carried to the mouths of others.
1-20. RESPIRATORY DISEASE CONTROL MEASURES
The principal difficulty in the prevention and control of respiratory disease lies in
the fact that most individuals are susceptible to them. Another problem is that an
infected person is usually transmitting the disease to others before he has any
symptoms or realizes that he is infectious. There are numerous measures used to
control or reduce these diseases. When used properly, they are quite effective. Some
of these measures are listed below.
a. Isolation of Cases. Unless a medical officer advises otherwise, known
cases should be separated from healthy persons. Serious cases should be
b. Quarantine and Surveillance of Contacts. These measures, which are
described in paragraph 1-12, may be used to control serious outbreaks of respiratory
c. Immunization. Immunization is an excellent preventive measure for those
diseases for which immunizations are available. In some cases, immunizations are
given only when a major outbreak of the disease is likely to occur.
d. Avoidance of Overcrowding. Overcrowding is an important factor in the
spread of respiratory infections. Overcrowding is more likely to occur in barracks during
basic combat training than in the field. During basic combat training, each trainee is to
have 72 square feet of floor space in the barracks, exclusive of stairs, halls, and
latrines. The recommended space for all troops is also 72 square feet, but this may not
always be possible. The minimum is not to be less than 55 square feet except for
temporary peak-load periods during which a minimum of 40 square feet per man is
permissible. As the space per person is reduced, however, the incidence of respiratory
diseases can be expected to increase.
(1) If beds are less than five feet apart, individuals should sleep head-to-
foot. The purpose of this arrangement is to put as much distance as possible between
the respiratory tracts of persons sleeping in adjacent bunks.