Infectious Diseases

What is an infectious disease?

According to the CDC, infectious diseases are illness caused by germs that enter the body, multiply and can cause an infection. Some of these diseases are contagious (or communicable) and can spread from one person to another person.

Infectious diseases can spread in many ways. They can be passed directly from one person to another person by breathing in airborne (respiratory) droplets or through contact with blood and bodily fluids. They can also be passed indirectly from one person to another person through touching contaminated objects.

Reporting of an infectious disease:

In Massachusetts, healthcare providers are required under Massachusetts General Laws to report certain diseases to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). Some of these diseases are reported to the city or town’s Local Health Department. If you are diagnosed with a reportable disease, you may receive a call from the Public Health Nurse.

Privacy of information:

Massachusetts law protects the confidentiality of your private information. The information will only be used to prevent further spread of the infectious disease. Personally identifiable information (PII) will not be released.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that emerged in late 2019. Read information about COVID-19 by going to for current guidance.

Influenza (Flu)
Influenza (flu) is a virus that spreads easily from person to person. When people with flu, cough or sneeze, the flu virus is in the wet spray that comes out of their nose and mouth. The flu virus can also get on objects you touch.

Monkeypox (Mpox)

Mosquitoes can spread diseases that make you sick. In Massachusetts, mosquitoes can give you eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus or West Nile virus (WNV).

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory Syncytical Virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization.

Tuberculosis (Tb)

A germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis (TB). This germ can spread from person to person through the air. Tuberculosis can be active or latent.