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Resources on infectious disease & vaccines
Welcome to the SB&F Editor's Blog. I am Maria Sosa, Editor-in-Chief of SB&F. Through this blog I hope to interact with the SB&F community and post news and information related to science books, videos, authors, opportunities and other topics of interest to our readers. I hope you find the blog useful and entertaining. Please, join the conversation by posting a comment on our Facebook page. I'd love to hear from you!


Flu season is upon us and with the addition of the H1N1 flu strain this year everyone is on high alert. There is certainly no shortage of advice and information out there on staying healthy. From bloggers, to newscasters, to neighbors, everyone has an opinion. SB&F would like to help arm our readers with solid, reliable information, not only on communicable diseases, like the flu, but also on the origins of Germ Theory (the theory proposing that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases; now the cornerstone of modern medicine) and the history of vaccination. Empower yourself, your patrons, and your students with information to help everyone form educated opinions. Below you will find 10 highly recommended books related to germs, communicable diseases, and vaccines.  After this list of books you will find five recommended websites for information related to infectious disease and a link to a guide for evaluating the information you find on the Internet.

Recommended Books

Allen, Arthur. Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver. (Illus.) NY: W.W. Norton, 2007. 523pp. ISBN 978-0-393-05911-3. 

Ben-Barak, Idan. The Invisible Kingdom: From the Tips of Our Fingers to the Tops of Our Trash, Inside the Curious World of Microbes. NY: Basic Books, 2009. x+204pp. ISBN 9780465018871. 

Callahan, Gerald N. Infection: The Uninvited Universe. (Illus.) NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2006. 304pp. ISBN 0-312-34846-0. 

Farrell, Jeanette. Invisible Enemies: Stories of Infectious Disease. (Illus.) NY: FSG, 2005. 272pp. $18.00. ISBN 0-374-33607-5. 

Goldsmith, Connie. Influenza: The Next Pandemic? (Illus.) NY: Twenty-First Century Books, 2006. 128pp. ISBN 0-7613-9457-5.   

Herbst, Judith. Germ Theory. (Illus.) NY: Twentieth-Century Books, 2007. 80pp. ISBN 0-8225-2909-2.  

Phelan, Glen. Killing Germs, Saving Lives: The Quest for the First Vaccines. (Illus.) Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2006. 60pp. ISBN 0-7922-5537-2.  

Sachs, Jessica Synder. Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World. (Illus.) NY: FSG, 2007. x+290pp. ISBN 978-0-8090-5063-5.  

Sherman, Irwin W. Power of Plagues. (Illus.) Washington, DC: ASM Press, 2006. 431pp. ISBN 1-55581-356-9.  

Snedden, Robert. Fighting Infectious Diseases. (Illus.) Westport, CT: Heinemann, 2007. 48pp. ISBN 978-1-4034-9560-0.

There is an over-abundance of information on the Internet right now related to the flu (both seasonal and H1N1) and vaccines. Not all of this information is reliable. Please following these guidelines created by the Medical Library Association to access the reliability of health information you find on the Web, or visit these SB&F approved websites for information on infections disease.

Recommended  Websites

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccines and Immunizations

This site from the CDC provides the government’s recommendations for vaccines and immunizations. This is a good place to go for reliable information from a trusted resource. Some of the information provided includes immunization schedules, school requirements, information on side-effects and vaccine safety, information for travelers and specific age groups, and much more. The CDC currently has a link to on this site. provides up to date information on the 2009 flu season, including a flu shot locator, myths and facts about the flu, H1N1 flu self evaluation, and best practices for avoiding the flu.  

The Germ Theory Calendar 

Germ Theory is a well-established theory proposing that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases. The theory was quite controversial when it was first proposed, but now is the cornerstone of modern medicine. The theory gave rise to important practices such as good hygiene, antibiotics, and vaccination. The Germ Theory Calendar is a straightforward database of important breakthroughs in the theory, starting with M.T. Varro in 50 BC postulating that invisible animalcules caused some diseases up to 1900 when Sir Almroth Wright began to investigate the use of bacterial vaccines, not for prevention, but for cure. In between you will find listings for well know milestones (1798: use of the smallpox vaccination in humans) and not-so-well-know milestones (1829: first municipal water filter). The site is not flashy (there are no graphics), but it is full of interesting, well-organized information related to the evolution of Germ Theory.  


This site is brought to you by the Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by philanthropist Alfred I. duPont in 1936 and devoted to improving the health of children. The information on the site is written in layman’s terms and is easily accessible to a wide audience. The site has three main sections: For Parents, For Kids and For Teens. The kids section is full of appealing, interactive movies, quizzes, and games to help children gain a better understanding health related topics. The site currently offers a H1N1 Flu Center for both children and parents. The children’s flu center gives young readers five guidelines to follow in order to stop the spread of H1N1 (get the vaccine, wash your hands, stay away from those who are sick, cough or sneeze in to a tissue or the crook of your arm, and stay home if you are sick). The children’s flu center also has a great tutorial called “What Are Germs?” for youngsters. The parent’s flu center lists symptoms of the H1N1 flu, information on the flu and pregnancy, and more.  

Medline Plus: Infection Diseases 

MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from the National Library Medicine (NLM), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. Medline Plus as a whole has tons of information on just about every disease, disorder, or injury. Their infectious disease section is full of reliable information related to communicable diseases. Many of the articles link to resources beyond the NLM and NIH, but they are well vetted, trustworthy resources such as the Mayo Clinic, American Cancer Society, and the American Association of Pediatrics. The site offers a 59 page primer (in PDF format) called “Understanding Microbes in Sickness and in Health.” The booklet is a great starting place for anyone looking for information on infectious disease.  

Smithsonian National Museum of American History: What Ever Happened to Polio?

What Ever Happened to Polio? is an interactive tour of the history of polio from its origins to the polio vaccine and the disease’s eradication. The site was created in conjunction with the exhibit of the same name at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC (the exhibit is now closed, but this site lives on). The site is organized in to four sections:  The American Epidemics, How Polio Changed Us, The Virus and Vaccine, and Polio Today. Each section is full of archival photographs, quotes from people who lived during that time, and audio and video clips. The site also includes activities, a timeline, additional resources and historical photo gallery. This is truly a great site from the Smithsonian. The site is educational and engaging for anyone ages 13 and beyond.

Posted 22 Oct 2009 1:10 PM by Heather Malcomson