Disease of the Week

Learn key facts, prevention tips and take a quiz to test your knowledge about common and serious diseases for people of all ages.

Family making healthy dinner

Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious disease that affects almost every part of your body, including your blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves.

Topics

Pregnant woman declining glass of wine

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) can occur in an individual who was exposed to alcohol before birth. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord and may lead to lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.

3D image of a brain

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells that control voluntary movement. Learn more about the National ALS Registry.

Girl with grandfather

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease so you can recognize the differences between normal aging and changes due to this condition. Better understand the risks and learn more about possible ways to reduce your risk.

Couple smiling and stretchingWalk. Run. Climb steps. Bend. These and other daily activities can be difficult with arthritis. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints. Arthritis affects people of all ages, including children, and generally affects more women than men.
Woman using inhalerInhale. Exhale. We do it every day, but some days are harder if you have asthma. Both kids and adults can go through repeated bouts of wheezing, trouble breathing, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing.

Mature couple hikingBlood clots are a serious, and often underdiagnosed, but preventable medical condition. It is important to know about blood clots because they can happen to anybody at any age and cause serious illness, disability, and in some cases, death.
BotulismBotulism is a rare, but serious illness caused by a germ called Clostridium botulinum. Even the tiniest amount of botulinum toxin can be deadly. Find out key facts about botulism and how to prevent it.
Three generations of womenBreast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Test your knowledge about preventing breast cancer.

Woman sitting in front of fireplace with dog and laptopCO poisoning is entirely preventable. You can protect yourself and your family by acting wisely in case of a power outage and learning the symptoms of CO poisoning.
Boy with cerebral palsyCerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood, and children with cerebral palsy and their families need support.
Three womenAll women are at risk for cervical cancer, although it occurs most often in women over age 30. Each year, about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Screening tests and a vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer.
Father taking son's temperatureChickenpox is a contagious disease. It causes an itchy rash, fever and tiredness. Most children with chickenpox completely recover within a week. However, it can be serious. Two doses of chickenpox vaccine is the best protection against the disease.
MosquitoChikungunya is a viral disease spread to people by infected mosquitoes. Symptoms can be debilitating and commonly include a high fever, joint pain and a rash; usually starting 3-7 days after being bitten. Most people are sick for a week or longer.
Kidney illustrationMost people with kidney disease aren’t aware they have it. Talk with your doctor about getting tested for kidney disease. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, make a plan to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control.
Doctor consulting with man and womanOf cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal (colon) cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. Screening saves lives. If you are 50 years old or older, get screened now.
Girl sneezing into elbowSore throat and runny nose are usually the first signs of the common cold. Most people recover within 7-10 days. Reduce your risk of getting a cold by washing your hands often and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.
ConcussionsDon’t get in over your head and ignore a concussion. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. TBIs can also happen when a fall or blow to the body makes the head and brain move quickly back and forth.
Baby with bright blue eyes

Learn more about a virus that can cause birth defects.

Man and woman blowing bubblesChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases asthma.

Mosquito​Dengue is spread through Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito bites, found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters.
Familying making healthy dinnerDiabetes is a serious disease that affects almost every part of your body, including your blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves.
Disease DetectiveCalled the nation’s health protection agency, CDC Disease Detectives are working 24/7 to protect Americans from health and safety threats, both foreign and domestic. Whether it’s a measles outbreak on a college campus or a global pandemic, disease detectives look for clues to help figure out what happened to cause the problem.

EbolaEbola is a rare and deadly disease. It is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus also can be spread through contact with objects contaminated with the virus, or infected animals.
Girl blowing her noseSymptoms of enterovirus infection include coughing, sneezing, and fever. Serious symptoms include wheezing and trouble breathing. Enterovirus infections are most common in infants, children, and teenagers.
Large group of peopleEvery year, about 140,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed in the United States. Anyone can have a seizure. Delayed recognition and inadequate treatment increases the risk for additional seizures, disability, and in rare instances, death.

Mother taking daughter's temperatureInfluenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Family eating dinnerLet’s eat! But this holiday season, let’s eat safely. Don’t let foodborne illness ruin your holiday plans. Whether you’re in your kitchen or helping friends or family in theirs, follow the four simple steps to food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill
DNA string

Fragile X syndrome is one of the most common inherited causes of intellectual disability, which limits a person’s ability to learn at an expected level and function in daily life.

Group of young adults

Anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can cause very serious complications when not treated, but can be cured with the right medication.

Baby sucking on big toe

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is common in infants and young children. It usually causes fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet. Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene to reduce your risk of infection.

RatIt’s better to feed one cat than many mice ─ especially if those rodents have hantavirus. Deer mice and other rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. Take these prevention tips along with you on your next camping trip.
Three men

Heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in the United States. Nearly 600,000 Americans die of heart disease annually. This represents almost 25% of all deaths in the United States.

Hemophilia Day logoThere are an estimated 20,000 people in the United States living with hemophilia, and many more globally. Join us to raise awareness about bleeding disorders and the need to build a family of support for people living with them.
Women eating at restaurantHere’s a foodborne illness that may not be on your radar. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter-even in microscopic amounts-from contact with contaminated food or drinks.
Large group of peopleHepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. About 75% of people who get infected with the Hepatitis C virus develop a chronic, or long-term, infection. Many people infected with Hepatitis C can live for decades.
HEV outbreak investigationLearn all about hepatitis E, a different type of a common disease. Hepatitis E doesn’t appear often in the United States, but it is common in many parts of the world with poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Cells

Around 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the U.S., and 1 in 7 of them don’t know they have it. The only way to know you have HIV is to get tested. If you are living with HIV, treatment can keep you healthy and protect your sex partners.

Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseIn Crohn’s disease, inflammation can occur in any part of the gastrointestinal tract—from the mouth to the anus—but it most often affects the end of the small intestine where it joins the large intestine. Although patient receives treatment, they may still experience flare-ups. There also are periods that patients may not notice any symptoms.

Cold cuts on cutting boardAbout 1,600 people in the United States get sick from Listeria each year. While the infection is rare, in 2011, an unusual source—cantaloupes contaminated with Listeria—caused one of the deadliest foodborne outbreaks in the US.
Large family

To lower your risk for liver cancer, get vaccinated against Hepatitis B, get tested for Hepatitis C, and don’t drink too much alcohol.

Woman breaking cigarette in twoMore people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. This is true for both men and women. The most important thing you can do to lower your lung cancer risk is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
Doctor taking notes while talking to patient

Lupus occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissue. It is thought to be caused by hormones, genetics, and the environment. Symptoms may include fatigue, joint pain, sun sensitivity, and skin rashes. Treatment can help manage symptoms.

TickBeware of the blood suckers. No, not that kind! These are hard to see and can give you Lyme disease. Called nymphs, these tiny ticks can attach to any part of the body.

Family on vacationMeasles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. Measles can cause serious health complications, especially in young children. The best protection is measles vaccine.

Family having dinnerNorovirus is the leading cause of diarrhea and vomiting in the United States.  About 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year. The virus is very contagious and can spread quickly in closed places like long-term care facilities and schools.

Boy with pink eye

Pink, itchy eyes? Pink eye – or conjunctivitis – is common and spreads easily. It sometimes needs medical treatment, depending on the cause. Know the symptoms, when to seek treatment, and how to help prevent it.

Young girl with wash cloth on head and thermometer in mouth

Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year. Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Lower your risk of pneumonia with vaccines and other healthy living practices.

3D representation of a single poliovirus particle

Polio has been eliminated from the United States thanks to widespread vaccination. We continue to vaccinate our nation’s children knowing that this crippling and potentially fatal disease still circulates in other parts of the world and could easily be brought into the U.S.

RaccoonRabies is a disease most often spread through the bite of a rabid animal. Rabies almost always leads to death unless you receive a series of shots before symptoms even appear—that’s why it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you’re bitten by an animal.
Three girls swimmingKnowing the basic facts about recreational water illnesses (RWIs) can make the difference between an enjoyable time at the pool, beach, or water park, and getting a rash, having diarrhea, or developing other, potentially serious illnesses.
Mother wiping daughter's noseRespiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is contagious and causes cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or so, but some can get very sick with pneumonia or bronchiolitis. There is no RSV vaccine, but there are ways to help prevent RSV infection.
TickRocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) can be a severe and even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms. Learn how to avoid getting bitten by ticks and which signs and symptoms to watch for after you’ve been around ticks.
Mother and father with infantRotavirus can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting in infants and young children. It spreads easily, and it’s hard to prevent rotavirus infection with just hand washing and good hygiene. Rotavirus vaccine is the best protection.

Large group of peopleSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory illness that affected many people worldwide in 2003. It was caused by a coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. The illness spread to 29 countries, where 8,096 people got SARS and 774 of them died. The SARS global outbreak was contained in July 2003. Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world.
Young girlScarlet fever results from group A strep infection. If your child has a sore throat and rash, their doctor can test for strep. Quick treatment with antibiotics can protect your child from possible long-term health problems.
Large familyShingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. You can get shingles at any age, but it’s more common in older adults. Shingles vaccine protects against shingles and the long-term pain that it can cause.
Group of teenagersIn people with sickle cell disease, red blood cells become hard, sticky, and shaped like a C. The sickle cells die early, leaving a shortage of red blood cells (anemia). They also clog blood vessels, causing pain and other serious problems.
Father applying sunscreen to daughter's faceSkin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types (basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas) are highly curable, but the third (melanoma) is more dangerous. Know the risks and protect yourself.
Doctor examining girl's throatSore throats can be mild or severe. How do you know when it’s strep throat? How should you treat it? Your doctor can do a quick test and provide proper treatment for a quick recovery.
Group of diverse adultsStroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the US. A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. In either case, parts of the brain become damaged or die. Stroke can affect your senses, speech, behavior, thoughts, memory, and emotions. One side of your body may become paralyzed or weak.

Hand with IV

Tetanus infection is caused by bacteria. Inside the body, the bacteria produce a toxin, or poison, that causes your muscles to tighten and cramp painfully. Tetanus mainly affects the neck, chest and stomach.

MosquitoWest Nile Virus (WNV) is most often spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Those mosquitoes then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.
Mother kissing sleeping babyWhooping cough—a cough by any other name may not be as deadly! This very contagious respiratory disease can be serious for anyone, but is life-threatening in young babies. The best way to prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated.

Pregnant womanZika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and through sexual contact with an infected man.

Page last reviewed: November 7, 2018