CDC debuts new comic book: ‘The Junior Disease Detectives’

Image courtesy the CDC

Now more than ever, comic book hero teams have captured the world’s attention: Marvel’s Avengers, DC’s Justice League, and, of course, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Junior Disease Detectives.

Partnering with the Department of Agriculture and 4-H, the Centers (CDC) have put out a full-length graphic novel aimed at helping teens and kids understand infectious disease outbreaks — and maybe inspire a passion for public health while they’re at it.

“CDC hopes that this story raises youth awareness of infectious diseases and the public health risks they pose,” the book, “The Junior Disease Detectives: Operation Outbreak,” opens.

The story follows a group of teens involved in 4-H. One of them, Eddie, gets sick after attending the county fair one night, which also happens to be the eve of a much-anticipated field trip to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Eddie ends up hospitalized with a life-threatening upper respiratory infection — one that doctors can’t identify. While CDC officers rush to figure out what’s going on, Eddie’s friends use what they’ve learned during their field trip to narrow down potential causes for their classmate’s illness.

Kids (and adults — we don’t judge comic-loving grown-ups) who read the book will learn the basics of infectious diseases and what the CDC and its Epidemic Intelligence Service do to keep the public safe. The book even touches on cutting-edge science, like the role of whole genome sequencing in outbreak investigations.

There’s also a germ-fighting superhero called “Germ Slayer,” a medieval archer, an eyeball-melting alien virus and a film noir-style detective — but you’ll have to read the graphic novel yourself to see how those fit in to the story.

You can download the entire book for free at the CDC’s website. We won’t spoil the cliffhanger ending.

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