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Science: Human Body: Pathogens

Task Information

A copy of the TASK is available for download below.

RESEARCH TIP! For this task you need to ensure the information you are looking at is from a reliable source and is current. 

Look for information that is from the following:

  • A government website .gov
  • A health organisation
  • A Scientific website
  • An educational website .edu

Beware of information from forums and websites where people without qualifications are presenting information. E.g., Yahoo!Answers, and Wikipedia. 

Ask Yourself:

1.  Who is the organisation behind the information?

2.  Is there an identifiable author?

3.  Can I find this information in two other reliable websites or books? Cross-reference your information!

4.  When was this information last updated?


How to create a Bibliography

Key Books in the Library

Abrahams, P. (2009). 120 Diseases. London: Amber Books.

Neighbours, M., & Tannehill-Jones, R. (2006). Human Diseases. New York: Thomson.

Suggested Pathogens for Research

Pathogen Disease Caused   Symptoms
Rabies virus Rabies paralysis, spasms, fever, overproduction of saliva
Varicella Chickenpox fever, itchy blister-like rash
Vibrio cholerae Cholera diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration
Yersinia pestis Bubonic plague 25 million people 1347-1352 (black death)
Clostridium botilinum Food poisoning blurred vision, weakness, difficulty swallowing and occasionally death
Giardia lamblia Giardia nausea, flatulence, diarrhoea
Toxoplasma gondii Toxoplasmosis acute form causes fever, chills, rash, exhaustion
Candida albicans Thrush creamy mucus, oral or vaginal


Please see your teacher if you wish to research a pathogen not on this list. 

Search Terms

1. Draw a diagram or insert a diagram of your pathogen.  The diagram must be fully labelled including the type of pathogen it is (bacteria, virus, fungus or protozoan).

  • diagram of ___(rabies)___ pathogen
  • image of ___(rabies)___ pathogen

2. Describe how your pathogen is transmitted from human to human.

  • transmission of ___(rabies)___ pathogen
  • how is ___(rabies)___ transmitted?
  • Etiology of ___(rabies)___ ("Etiology: the cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or condition.")

3. Describe how the pathogen causes disease in the human body.

4. Outline the first line of defence in a human generally and then relate this to your pathogen. There are two main categories that the first line of defense falls into: Physical barrier (skin) or chemical barrier (stomach acid, etc.). 

5. Outline the second line of defence in a human (use diagrams). The second line of defense involves the immune system response. 

6. Once a pathogen enters the body and passes by the first and second line of defence, the third line of defence is required.  It is often said that the third line of defence is specific. Explain what is meant by this.

7. If a person is infected again a few weeks later with your pathogen, what type of response will your body mount. For example:  Will there be more or less antibodies and why?

8. What measures can you take to ensure that you do not get a pathogenic illness? Explain how this will stop you from getting sick. Is hygiene a concern for your disease?

  • Prevention of  ___(rabies)___ pathogen

The Body's Defenses Against Diseases

Search Queries: How does _______ attack the immune system?

Science Learning: The Body's First Line of Defence, Second Line of Defence, Infection, Vaccines and Therapies

BBC: Disease and Resistance
An excellent website with clear basic information.

Human Diseases and Conditions: Body Defences
Use this website to also find information about your pathogen. 

Human Diseases and Conditions: The Nature of Germs and Infections

Crash Course Science: Your Immune System: Natural Born Killer:

More Challenging Information

Immune Defence Against Microbial Pathogens

The Immune System: An Overview

Reference Information

Recommended places to search for information on your disease:

World Health Organisation
Search this website to find information on your disease. The Fact Sheets are very useful.

Health Insite is a major search engine that collects responses from all Australian government health websites. 

A to Z Infectious Diseases (NSW Health)
Select your disease and when the page comes up, select Fact Sheet on the right for a good break down of the disease. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Type in your disease in the search box, select from the results.  

Viral Zone: Human Viruses and Associated Pathologies
A very scientific website, good for images of the virus and transmission. 

Virtual Medical Centre
Search for your disease using the search box. 

General Disease Information

What are Pathogens?


Types of Pathogen

How Viruses Work

How Stuff Works: How Viruses Work

Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body (Video, 4mins)

Other Resources

See the latest incidents of diseases around the world.

Sci Show: FAQs about the New Flu (Interesting video)

Top Five Deadliest Diseases

Interactive Lab: Disease Lab Interesting Simulation for the Spread of Diseases

Australia's Defense Against the Spread of Infectious DIseases

Below is information about government responses to pandemic threats. 

'Pan' means all, and 'demos' means people.  

Pandemic Influenza - Department of Health and Aging

Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in China - Department of Health and Aging

Ausrtalian Government webpage on Infectious Diseases