Where can I find information about epidemics?

Entry last updated: 01/11/21


Epidemics are infectious (easily spread) diseases that spread quickly in a large area, or country. They can cause widespread sickness and even death. When an epidemic gets out of control and spreads to many countries or regions of the world, it is called a pandemic. Cholera, SARS and COVID-19 are some examples of epidemics that spread across the world to become pandemics.

General websites

For the latest information about the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand, please visit Unite Against COVID-19, the official website from the Government of New Zealand.

The websites below will show you where to find information about different types of epidemics, their causes, and treatments.


This website covers many topics in simple and easy to understand language. It is a great website for scientific information.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg disease. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Britannica School Primary

Britannica School Primary is part of the EPIC collection of databases which have been specially put together for New Zealand school students.

  • Search for the word 'epidemics' using the search box at the top of the page.
  • Read the article epidemic (disease outbreak) and plague and epidemic (disease) to find out about the history of epidemics and plagues.
  • You can select to read these articles at a higher level by selecting 2 from Article Reading Level at the top of the page.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Kids' Health

Kids' Health is an Australian website that has useful information and advice on your body, health, and how vaccinations help protect us from diseases.

  • Use the word 'diseases' in the search box.
  • Take a look at the result called Immunisation - keeping safe from diseases.
  • This page explains terms like immunisation, vaccine, and many types of epidemics like polio, chickenpox and measles.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About link on the website. This will tell you what the company’s mission and values are.


Ducksters is an education website with lots of information on subjects like history, geography, science and biography.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

New Zealand sites

These websites from the Government of New Zealand have information about the history of epidemics and pandemics in New Zealand. Also included is a current website that offers advice and information on how everyone can stay safe during this outbreak of COVID-19.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa, especially the history of epidemics in New Zealand.

  • Scroll down the page to the section on Social Connections.
  • Select Health from the range of topics, then to to Epidemic.
  • This page covers the history of epidemics in New Zealand such as the typhoid era, the influenza era, the polio era and more.
  • Remember to explore External links and sources to find other useful websites with information on this topic.


NZHistory is another great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. It has history about an epidemic that became a pandemic, how it spread to New Zealand and the impact it had.

  • Look at the section called Culture and Society and find the heading called Disasters.
  • It has a link to the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Tips: Te Ara and NZHistory are from the Ministry of Culture & Heritage so we know the information is reliable. They both have .govt in their web address, meaning they are form the government. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Unite against COVID-19

This website was put together in 2020 by the Ministry of Health in New Zealand to provide people with all the information they need on the COVID-19 pandemic, including updates, and who to contact if you are stressed or worried.


You will find many books in your public library and school library about epidemics. Here are some to get you started:

SCIS no. 1965592
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