Diseases and epidemics

Image: Ebola in Guinea by EU HUmanitarian Aid and Civil Protection on Flickr

This collection of websites explores the history of diseases and epidemics around the world. They also examine the ways in which governments and scientists are endeavouring to manage outbreaks, limit the spread of disease and find cures for infectious diseases. SCIS 1698327

See also: Societal health

BBC History
This website documents the deadly path of the black plague that swept the length and breadth of Britain during the 1300’s. It includes testimonies written at the time of the plague, images and a timeline.   

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary


Managed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Flu.gov provides information on all aspects of influenza past and present. The section on pandemic awareness has an explanation on pandemics (including the difference between seasonal flu and a flu pandemic), the history of influenza, current strains of influenza including Avian, Seasonal and Swine, the science behind influenza and the vaccines available.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

To discover information on the homework site ManyAnswers, use the search terms ‘pandemics’, ‘epidemics’, ‘diseases’.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

Ministry of Health
Is New Zealand prepared for any potential pandemics? The Ministry of Health website has information on pandemic planning including a framework for action. It also contains up-to-date New Zealand pandemic information including the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

NZ History
The 1918 influenza pandemic was New Zealand’s worst disease outbreak killing approximately 8600 people. NZ History has facts, images, newspaper clippings, a sound-clip, and links to further information on this topic.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

Science Museum: Brought to Life
Brought to Life has been developed by the Science Museum, UK and provides a broad overview on diseases and epidemics throughout history. There are links to further explore the topic, a glossary and an interactive activity on the Black Death.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
What is the difference between an epidemic, a pandemic, and an endemic disease? Te Ara provides a brief definition of these terms and a history of the communicable diseases that have affected New Zealand past and present. There are newspaper clips, images, and statistics.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

World Health Organisation
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has fact sheets, statistics, news stories and multimedia resources about the infectious diseases affecting the world today. It also has information on the processes, tools and systems that are used to respond to disease outbreaks around the world.

Suggested level: secondary

World Vision
World Vision has information on a range of topics including fact sheets on HIV and AIDS that contain global statistics, and describe the impact of AIDS on nations and communities. Information on the treatments available, immunisation programmes and links to other relevant websites are also included on the site.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

Encylopedia Britannica Online and Students Resources in Context offer comprehensive information on epidemics, pandemics and have specific information on influenza, Ebola and the HIV AIDS virus. School login (username and password) is required.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

Have you thought about using fiction with your class to support your topic? The following are some suggestions for your students (and you!) to read and enjoy.

YA Fiction Books
All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls, 2012
The Dead by Charlie Higson, 2011
Pandemic: Spanish flu, 1918 by Sally Stone, 2012

How Pandemics Spread. Mark Honigsbaum. TED-Ed. YouTube. 7:59