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Infectious Disease

Infectious diseases, also called communicable diseases, are human illnesses caused by germs such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other microbes. Ways these diseases may be spread include: eating, drinking, breathing or touching something that contains germs; direct contact with an infected person or animal; breathing contaminated air; kissing and sexual contact; ingesting contaminated food or water; bites by animals or insects such as mosquitoes or ticks; or contact with animal droppings. Prevention focuses on measures such as hand washing, vaccination, safe food preparation, safe sex, staying home when ill, and traveling safely.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Infectious Diseases
Developed at the National Library of Medicine specifically for consumers, this site is a portal for both government-sponsored and privately developed health information targeting the lay public. Click on Health Topics, then scroll down and click on Infectious Diseases to find an extensive listing of resources that will help you understand this topic.

Centers for Disease Control and Infection: Diseases & Conditions A-Z Index
The mission of the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. This site is a gateway to CDC information on a wide variety of infectious diseases.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Health & Research Topics
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health, conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. Many infectious disease topics are accessible from this site.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research: Infectious Diseases
This site provides a basic overview of infectious diseases. Also included is more in-depth information on specific infectious disease topics such as HIV/AIDS, human papilloma virus, hepatitis, E. coli in food, differentiating bacterial versus viral infections, antibiotic use and misuse, and hand-washing for prevention of infectious diseases.


  • Inside the outbreaks: the elite medical detectives of the epidemic intelligence service. Pendergrast M. 2010
  • Infections of leisure. Schlossberg D. 2009
  • Germ proof your kids: the complete guide to protecting (without overprotecting) your family from infections. Rotbart, H. 2008
  • Infectious diseases: in context. Lerner B. & Learner K. 2008
  • Sexually transmitted diseases. Holmes, K. et al., eds. 2008
  • Atlas of fungal infections, 2nd ed. Kauffmann C. 2007
  • The first miracle drugs: how sulfa drugs transformed medicine. Lesch J. 2007
  • Sexually transmitted diseases: a physician tells you what you need to know. Marr, L. 2007
  • 12 diseases that changed our world. Sherman I. 2007
  • Immunizations & infectious diseases: an informed parent’s guide. Fisher M. 2006
  • Infection: the uninvited universe. Callahan G. 2006
  • Viruses vs. superbugs : a solution to the antibiotics crisis? Häusler, T. 2006
  • Tick-bourne diseases of humans. Goodman J. 2005
  • The great influenza: the epic story of the deadliest plague in history. Barry JM. 2004
  • The fever trail: in search of the cure for malaria. Honigsbaum M. 2002
  • The demon in the freezer. Preson R. 2002
  • Essentials of tropical infectious diseases. Guerrant RL. 2001

Video Recordings

  • Put your hands together. [handwashing for infection control] Centers for Disease Control. 2008. Link: http://www.cdc.gov/CDCTV/HandsTogether/index.html
  • Infection control and bloodborne pathogens. Karpinski M. 2007
  • Infection prevention. Mangum S. 2002

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Centerat 312-926-5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateApril 24, 2012