Communicable Diseases

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics have been used for the past 70 years to treat illnesses and prevent thousands of deaths. However, some antibiotics are no longer as effective at killing bacteria and treating illnesses. This is known as Antimicrobial Resistance or Antibiotic Resistance.

Antibiotics will not cure a cold or the flu. They are also not appropriate for bronchitis, some ear infections or sinus infections.

Taking antibiotics unnecessarily can kill helpful bacteria in the body and increase your risk for serious infections.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

  • Do not share your medications.
  • Do not ask for antibiotics. Your doctor will prescribe what is appropriate. Doctors often feel pressure from patients to give them what they want, even if it is not beneficial.
  • Antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections such as:
    • Colds or flu
    • Most coughs and bronchitis
    • Sore throats
    • Runny noses
  • ALWAYS finish your prescription! Take medication as directed, even if you feel better.

Learn more about Antibiotic Resistance.

Learn More

Hepatitis A

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.

Can Hepatitis A be prevented?

Yes. The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated. Experts recommend the vaccine for all children, and people with certain risk factors and medical conditions. The vaccine is also recommended for travelers to certain international countries, even if travel occurs for short times or on closed resorts.

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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

Without treatment, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can make a person very sick and even cause death. Learning the basics about HIV can keep you healthy and prevent transmission.

HIV can be transmitted by:

  • Sexual contact
  • Sharing needles to inject drugs
  • Mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding

HIV is NOT transmitted by:

  • Air or water
  • Saliva, sweat, tears or closed-mouth kissing
  • Insects or pets
  • Sharing toilets, food or drinks

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Measles Information

The amount of measles cases in the US has been extremely low in the last 30 years due to an effective two-dose anti-measles vaccination program, but recently there have been an increasing number of cases nationwide. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is recommending assessment of patients and vaccination of patients lacking evidence of immunity.

For Medical Facilities

Any suspected case of measles should be immediately reported to the local health department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 617-983-6800.

Should a patient call with a concern that they have measles? They should be advised to avoid all public activities until they can be evaluated and arrangements should be made to have them isolated, preferably in an Emergency Department.

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Mpox is a rare disease caused by infection with the mpox virus, which can make people sick. Symptoms may include a rash, resembling pimples or blisters, often preceded by flu-like illness. Overall illness typically lasts 2 - 4 weeks. While some people experience mild symptoms, others may experience severe pain. Mpox can be spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.


The CDC recommends the following steps to protect yourself from getting mpox:

  1. Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like mpox.
  2. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with mpox has used.
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  4. Get vaccinated.

Learn More

Contact Information

Public Health
25 Meade Street
Worcester, MA 01610

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Phone: 508-799-8531
Fax: 508-799-8572
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In the event of a health emergency, please call 911.

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