Body processes

Droplet Infection – Function, Task & Diseases

Droplet infection

The transmission of pathogens through tiny secretion droplets from the respiratory tract is called droplet infection .

What is droplet infection?

It can happen through the air, for example through coughing, snorting, breathing and sneezing. The best antidote to droplet infection is hygiene, wearing suitable protective clothing if necessary and, in times of regional flu outbreaks, also keeping your distance from people who could be affected. The transmission of the disease by droplet infection is particularly favored in crowded department stores, schools, cinemas or public transport.

Droplet infection is defined as disease transmission through tiny droplets of secretion from the breath of those who are already affected. In most cases, the droplet infection occurs through the air contaminated with contagious viruses and bacteria .

Causes, Transmission & History

The problem is that the transmission of a disease through a droplet infection is initially not noticed. Therefore, before the onset of your own illness, you become a carrier by droplet infection. 

The droplet infection plays a major role in the transmission of flu viruses and colds. However, other diseases are also known that are transmitted by droplet infection. In the case of the flu, you are contagious on the first day of infection and at least seven days afterward. During this time, the flu viruses can be passed on by droplet infection if you do not take sick leave and deliberately avoid contact with healthy people.

It is being discussed whether in certain cases there is a longer risk of infection through droplet infection. The extent to which droplet infection can be avoided by consistently wearing protective masks is controversial. The pathogens are released by coughing, sneezing or snorting and spread directly through the air as droplets of secretion.

In order to be affected by a droplet infection, you only have to be less than three meters away from an affected person. Droplet infection occurs when you breathe in the germ-laden air. We now know that many epidemics on earth have spread through droplet infection.

Examples of diseases

Examples of diseases that can be triggered by a droplet infection , in addition to the mentioned influenza viruses and viruses that cause colds, are the triggers of diphtheria , chickenpox , herpes , tuberculosis , whooping cough , measles , rubella , plague , scarlet fever , and the new disease SARS , called Ebola or mumps .

In all cases, the disease can be transmitted by droplet infection from the respiratory tract. Viruses, more rarely bacterial strains, are responsible for the fatal effects of droplet infection. Viral droplet infection is particularly widespread in childhood illnesses. In order to reduce the risks of droplet infection for people who are already weak or ill, vaccination is not only recommended with regard to influenza.

Although this does not minimize the risk of droplet infection 100 percent, it does significantly. A bacterial droplet infection often affects streptococci , chlamydia , pneumococci or meningococci . The latter are known to cause meningitis or meningococcal sepsis, which is also known as blood poisoning .

With tuberculosis , it was already thought that the risk of droplet infection had decreased because the disease was considered eradicated in our country. More recently, however, there has been an increased incidence in various mass accommodations or cramped facilities. Droplet infection, for example, occurs particularly easily in risk groups in asylum seekers and homeless shelters, among drug addicts, on public transport, in airplanes or among people with a weak immune system .

A major problem is the increased occurrence of resistant and multi-resistant germs . In groups that are particularly at risk, systematic preventive measures against droplet infection must be used.


Good hygiene can only partially protect you from droplet infection . It is much more important that you minimize contact with larger groups of people during the cold and flu season. 

Immune strengthening measures and, if necessary, wearing appropriate protective masks can minimize the risk of droplet infection. There are already vaccinations against some diseases, and good early detection and treatment methods against others.

Travel to areas known for certain diseases such as Ebola, tuberculosis, plague or diphtheria should be avoided. Pandemics and epidemics occasionally arise because people did not pay enough attention to the droplet infection and did not go to the doctor in time despite the first symptoms.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.