Invasion of the body by various agents—including bacteria, fungi (see fungus), protozoans, viruses, and worms—and its reaction to them or their toxins. Infections are called subclinical until they perceptibly affect health, when they become infectious diseases. Infection can be local (e.g., an abscess), confined to one body system (e.g., pneumonia in the lungs), or generalized (e.g., septicemia). Infectious agents can enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, sexual transmission, passage to a fetus during pregnancy or birth, wound contamination, or animal or insect bites. The body responds with an attack on the invader by leukocytes, production of antibodies or antitoxins, and often a rise in temperature. The antibodies may result in short-term or lifelong immunity. Despite significant progress in preventing and treating infectious diseases, they remain a major cause of illness and death, particularly in regions of poor sanitation, poor nutrition, and crowding.

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The Control of Communicable Diseases Manual is one of the most widespread single-volume reference volumes on the topic of infectious diseases. It is useful for physicians, global travelers, emergency volunteers and all who have dealt with or might have to deal with public health issues.


The first edition, published in 1915, was titled Control of communicable diseases in man; it was also known then as the CCDM.

The first edition was a small pamphlet; for a long time the paperback edition was a handy pocket book. Now, the softcover version would fit in the largest pocket of a very spacious winter coat only.

Latest edition

The 18th edition of the CCDM was published by the American Public Health Association in 2004, under the editorship of David L. Heymann.

The paperback and hardcover editions are both 623 pages. The paperback dimensions are 1.12" x 6.86" x 4.36", hardcover dimensions are 1.32" x 7.34" x 4.40".

The ISBN for the hardcover edition is ISBN 0-87553-182-2, the paperback is ISBN 0-87553-242-X

Disease descriptions

Each disease gets a description divided into nine sections:

  1. Identification
  2. Infectious agent
  3. Occurrence
  4. Reservoir
  5. Mode of transmission
  6. Incubation period
  7. Period of communicability
  8. Susceptibility and resistance
  9. Methods of control

The size of each section varies considerably. For instance, the reservoir section for smallpox is less than a line long, since this disease is, in theory, only present in the freezers of offcicial laboratories. By contrast, the anthrax entry has a large paragraph on the current reservoir.


The cost of the publication is $US 30. Lower prices are available for members of the APHA.

The full title of this book, as registered in the Library of Congress, is Control of communicable diseases manual : an official report of the American Public Health Association (ISBN 0-87553-242-X).

The book is also available in Spanish and Italian. Many illegal copies have been published in Chinese and Arabic (this made one of the former editors, Dr. Abram S. Benenson, very happy, for it was proof to him that "his" book was really useful).

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