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NNLM Reading Club: Public Health

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Microorganisms that cause disease are collectively called pathogens. Pathogens cause disease either by disrupting the body's normal processes and/or stimulating the immune system to produce a defensive response, resulting in high fever, inflammation, or other symptoms.

Infectious diseases can be spread from one person to another, for example through contact with bodily fluids, by aerosols (through coughing and sneezing), or via a vector, for example, a mosquito. ​Infectious diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

Many diseases become difficult to control if infectious agents evolve resistance to commonly used drugs. Scientists are currently searching for new approaches to treat infectious diseases, focusing on exactly how the pathogens change and drug resistance evolves.


Discover more about infectious disease at MedlinePlus, a free and easy-to-use online resource of trusted health and wellness information from the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

The Facemask Through the Centuries

CBS Sunday Morning. May 31, 2020. Originating during the Black Death of the Middle Ages, face coverings were used to protect against the transmission of disease. Mark Phillips talks with medical historian Mark Honigsbaum ("The Pandemic Century”) about the purpose and style of face masks.

Library Programming


Share the Latest COVID-19 Information

The purpose of the Coronavirus Self-Checker is to help people living in the United States make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. The system is not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of disease or other conditions, including COVID-19. Embed the CDC widget on your library website. The widget is available in a variety of languages and format styles.

The virus causing coronavirus disease in 2019 (COVID-19) is SARS-CoV-2. It's a novel or new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. It is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. The novel virus presents many different symptoms. Some are so mild that you may not even notice any symptoms, while others are life-threatening.

COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. Take steps to help your community learn and protect itself from spreading the virus. Get the latest public health information: https://www.coronavirus.gov/ and https://usa.gov/coronavirus. Get the latest research information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH): https://www.nih.gov/coronavirus

Show the Science

Image to of spray bottle and hand"Hands on" activities help raise awareness of how germs and viruses are transmitted. The aim of Handshake Hazard is to raise awareness of the transmission of bacteria and to show how easily germs can spread from person to person and on to different surfaces. The key message is that thorough hand washing can reduce the spread of bacteria.


​Share CDC information on how to properly wear a face mask to help stop the spread of germs and viruses. Use Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

CDC poster Wash Your HandsPosters

Ready-to-use printable posters from the CDC can help raise awareness about hand washing. Place them in highly visible public areas, such as schools, workplaces, and restrooms. They are designed for all audiences, and some are available in multiple sizes and languages.

English: 11×17 pdf icon [PDF – 523K]
Spanish: 11×17 pdf icon [PDF – 484K]
French: 11×17 pdf icon [PDF – 1.5M]
Arabic: 11×17 pdf icon [PDF – 1.5M]
Bengali: 11×17 pdf icon [PDF – 1.5M]
Chinese: 11×17 pdf icon [PDF – 1.5M]
Portuguese: 11×17 pdf icon[PDF – 1.5M]
Urdu: 11×17 pdf icon [PDF – 1.5M]
Haitian Creole: 11 x 17 pdf icon [PDF – 470K]

There's an NIH for that... and more