Infectious Diseases

Bird flu, malaria, plague and West Nile virus are infectious diseases we've all heard of. Find information on these epidemics and more in this section.

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How worried should you be about coronavirus variants? A virologist explains why we should pay attention to these five variants, some of which might be new to you.

By Paulo Verardi

It's been a year since the World Health Organization officially declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic. The last 12 months have been truly historic and life-changing in ways that we may not even yet recognize.

By John Donovan

Sometimes you just can't avoid using a public bathroom. Is it safe with coronavirus raging? How can you be sure?

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

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Many health experts are gravely concerned about how the massive protest crowds, chanting and especially use of tear gas could accelerate the spread of coronavirus.

By Patty Rasmussen

Learn the steps of contact tracing, one critical way that public health officials stop viruses like COVID-19 from spreading, in this HowStuffWorks video.

Despite strict closing and hygiene orders, San Francisco was hit hard by the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. But some residents balked at the rules and that meant more people died.

By John Donovan

As COVID-19 rages around the world, distilleries quickly ramp up the switch from booze to hand sanitizer in an all-out effort to curb the spread.

By Jeremy Glass

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The World Health Organization just declared the coronavirus a full-blown pandemic. What does that even mean, and how is that different from an epidemic?

By Sarah Gleim

You've probably heard the word "quarantine" a lot in relation to the coronavirus. But how is it different from patient isolation?

By Patty Rasmussen

There's been a steady uptick in Lyme disease across the United States since 1997, but the news isn't all bad.

By John Donovan

Since 2004, cases of diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes have tripled in the U.S.

By Jesslyn Shields

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We often lack the resources to treat and educate everyone when combating disease. Moving the 'hubs' of a social network to the front of the line may be most effective.

By Jesslyn Shields

And that unique ability may propel us closer to an HIV vaccine for humans.

By Kate Kershner

Mosquitoes spread deadly malaria, and trimming one specific shrub could make significant headway in battling the disease.

By Laurie L. Dove

Updated quarantine regulations which would give federal health officials more leeway to detain sick people have some legal and civil rights experts concerned.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Sure, the carrier mosquitoes are in the U.S., and so is the disease. But other factors will stave off a widespread incident, experts say.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Sometimes the nose knows. What advances are being made in detecting diseases by scent?

By Laurie L. Dove

The FDA is recommending that all blood donations start being tested for Zika virus in the next 12 weeks. But what about the blood already on hand? What happens to that?

By John Donovan

In countries where governments mandate vaccination against chickenpox, a new study finds, online searches for information about symptoms drop.

By Christopher Hassiotis

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Are jet air hand dryers the safest way to dry your hands after using the bathroom or are they blasting invisible microbes through the air with every use?

By Laurie L. Dove

With the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, scientists are taking a second look at infection treatments that were popular before antibiotics. Which ones might work today, and which ones are just quackery?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Just how common is it for schools, jobs and insurers to turn people away based on their DNA?

By Oisin Curran

As the Zika virus spreads, there's still much health experts don't know. So just how bad is the outbreak, and is it really connected with the rising cases of microcephaly?

By Nicholas Gerbis

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Only Charlie Sheen knows exactly why he went public with his HIV diagnosis last fall, but public health researchers are glad he did, as more people sought information.

By Jesslyn Shields

The WHO has declared such an emergency only three times before. And in the U.S., public health authorities are reporting the first sexually transmitted Zika infection.

By Julia Layton