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Public Health Merit Badge Helps and Documents

Scouts learn about how to prevent the spread of disease while working on the Public Health merit badge. They explore how pandemics happen and what steps can be taken to prevent outbreaks. They also learn about careers related to public health.

Public Health merit badge is an elective merit badge.

Help with Answers for the Public Health Merit Badge Requirements

Find specific helps for some of the Public Health merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 1: Public Health and Diseases

Explain what public health is. Explain how Escherichia coli (E. coli), tetanus, AIDS, encephalitis, salmonellosis, Lyme disease, and coronavirus (COVID-19) are contracted. Then, pick any four of the following diseases and explain how each one is contracted and possibly prevented: gonorrhea, West Nile virus, botulism, influenza, syphilis, hepatitis, emphysema, meningitis, herpes, lead poisoning. For all 10 diseases, explain the type or form of the disease (viral, bacterial, environmental, toxin), any possible vectors for transmission, ways to help prevent exposure or the spread of infection, and available treatments.

Requirement 1 Helps and Answers

What Is Public Health?

Public Health is defined as “the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society”. Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.

It is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases. Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world.

E Coli

E. coli (Escherichia coli), is a type of bacteria that normally lives in your intestines. It’s also found in the gut of some animals. Most types of E. coli are harmless and even help keep your digestive tract healthy.

You can get E Coli from under-cooked ground beef, untreated milk, contaminated fruits and vegetables, and other foods. It can also be contracted from drinking contaminated water or coming in contact with animals.

You can prevent it with good hygiene when handling foods, cooking ground beef to recommended temperature, washing produce, avoiding swallowing water when swimming, and other simple practices.

Read more


Tetanus is a serious disease of the nervous system caused by a toxin-producing bacterium. When the dormant bacteria enter a wound the cells are “awakened.” As they are growing and dividing, they release a toxin which impairs the nerves in the body that control muscles.

You can prevent tetanus by being vaccinated.

Read more


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It can spread through sexual contact, illicit injection drug use or sharing needles, contact with infected blood, or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

You can prevent AIDS by avoiding sexual contact and not using illegal drugs.

Read more


Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, most often caused by a viral infection.

It can be prevented with the usual measures to avoid viruses, such as good hygiene and not sharing utensils. It can also be spread by mosquitos and ticks, so wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts outdoors and applying insect repellent are also good measures. Also, do not have standing water in your yard, since this is where mosquitos breed.

Read more


Salmonella is the type of bacteria that’s the most frequently reported cause of food-related illness in the United States. It causes Salmonellosis. You can contract it from eating under-cooked meat or eggs, contaminated fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized dairy products, and contaminated processed foods. It can also be contracted directly through poor hand hygiene and from pets.

You can prevent Salmonella by cooking meats and eggs, washing raw produce, refrigerating food properly, good hygiene, and avoiding cross contamination when preparing food.

Read more

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection you get from the bite of an infected tick.

You can prevent Lyme disease by wearing long pants and long sleeved shirt when hiking, applying insect repellent, keeping your yard mowed and free of brush, and checking yourself for ticks after being outdoors.

Read more


COVID-19 is caused by a virus which is primarily transmitted via respiratory droplets. It spreads easily.

You can prevent COVID-19 or lessen its severity by being vaccinated. Other recommended measures include avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms, social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, practicing good hygiene, and wearing a face mask in indoor settings.

Read more


Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease which is caused by a bacterial infection.

You can prevent gonorrhea by avoiding sexual contact.

Read more

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito.

It can be prevented by wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts outdoors and applying insect repellent. Also, do not have standing water in your yard, since this is where mosquitos breed.

Read more


Botulism is a serious illness that affects the nervous system. It occurs when poisonous substances called botulinum toxins produce skeletal muscle paralysis. The most common type is food botulism.

It can be prevented by refrigerating foods within two hours of cooking, cooking food thoroughly, and avoiding food from cans which are damaged are bulging. Also, infants under the age of 1 year old should not be given honey.

Read more


Influenza — also known as the flu — is a contagious viral infection that attacks your respiratory system.

It can be prevented by washing hands, avoiding crowds during an outbreak, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, and avoiding contact with others if you have a fever

Read more


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a type of bacteria.

You can prevent syphilis by avoiding sexual contact.

Read more


Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by drugs, alcohol or other toxins, by infection with bacteria, viruses or parasites. The primary sources of the hepatitis A and E viruses are raw or under-cooked food, food handled by people who have not properly washed their hands and water contaminated by animal or human waste. Hepatitis C is mainly spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Vaccines are available for some strains of hepatitis. Cooking food properly, good hygiene, and avoid blood contamination also prevent the disease.

Read more


Emphysema is a lung condition that causes shortness of breath. The primary cause of Emphysema is exposure to airborne irritants from tobacco or marijuana smoke, air pollution, or chemical fumes.

Since smoking causes most cases of emphysema, the best way to prevent it is to not smoke and to avoid second hand smoke.

Read more


Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. Viral and bacterial infections are the most common causes of meningitis.

Meningitis can be prevented with hand washing, good hygiene, healthy diet and habits, and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Vaccinations are available for some forms of bacterial meningitis.

Read more


The herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV, is a viral infection that causes genital and oral herpes. It can be spread through saliva, genital contact, and through contact with other areas of the skin and the eyes.

It can be prevented by avoiding sexual contact and avoiding contact with a person who is experiencing an outbreak.

Read more

Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings are common sources of lead poisoning in children. Other sources include contaminated air, water and soil.

Lead poisoning can be prevented by reducing exposure to lead. This includes washing hands after playing outdoors, cleaning dusty surfaces, removing shoes in the house, running cold water before using, eating a healthy diet, and removing lead based paint.

Read more

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 2: Immunization

  1. Explain the meaning of immunization.
  2. Name eight diseases against which a young child should be immunized, two diseases against which everyone should be reimmunized periodically, and one immunization everyone should receive annually.
  3. Using the list of diseases and conditions in requirement 1, discuss with your counselor those which currently have no immunization available.

Requirement 2 Helps and Answers

What Is Immunization?

It is a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination. This term is often used interchangeably with vaccination or inoculation.

Childhood Immunizations

  • Diptheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Varicella (Chicken pox)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Immunizations which Need a Periodical Booster

  • Tetanus and Diphtheria (every 10 years)
  • Influenza (annual)
  • COVID-19 (follow current recommendations)

Diseases without an Immunization

  • E Coli
  • Encephalitis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Gonorrhea
  • West Nile Virus
  • Botulism
  • Syphilis
  • Emphysema
  • Herpes
  • Lead Poisoning

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 3: Water and Disease

Discuss the importance of safe drinking water in terms of the spread of disease. Then, demonstrate two ways for making water safe to drink that can be used while at camp. In your demonstration, explain how dishes and utensils should be washed, dried, and kept sanitary at home and in camp.

Requirement 3 Helps and Answers

Waterborne Diseases

The presence of contaminants in water can lead to adverse health effects, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. 

Read more

How to Wash Dishes While Camping

  1. Clean plate club
  2. Prep dishes
  3. Three bucket system
  4. Towel dry
  5. Search for more dishes
  6. Consolidate graywater
  7. Strain out food scraps
  8. Dispose of graywater

How to Build Your Own Dishwashing Rack

This dishwashing rack is sturdy enough to hold the standard three containers used for backcountry dish and utensil cleaning. Here’s how to build it.

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 4: Vectors

Explain what a vector is and how insects and rodents can be controlled in your home, in your community, and at camp. Tell why this is important. In your discussion, explain which vectors can be easily controlled by individuals and which ones require long-term, collective action.

Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

What Is a Vector?

Vector-borne diseases of public health importance are those infectious diseases spread by some organisms, such as insects and rodents, which carry viruses, parasites and bacteria to humans.

Read more.

Keeping Pests Out

  • Rodents: Eliminate food supply, block entry points, set traps
  • Mosquitoes: Eliminate stagnant water, use screens and netting, cover up outside, use insect repellent
  • Fleas: Keep grass cut short, groom pets frequently, keep pet bedding clean
  • Lice: Check hair, use shampoo, clean pillows and bedding, don’t share hats or pillows

Read more

Aspects of Vectors which Can Easily Be Controlled By Individuals

  • Good hygiene and cleanliness
  • Keeping standing water out of yards
  • Cutting grass short

Aspects of Vectors which Require Collective Action

  • Educating people
  • Water treatment
  • Proper sanitation

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 5: Facilities

With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do ONE of the following:

  1. Visit a municipal wastewater treatment facility or a solid-waste management operation in your community.
    • Describe how the facility safely treats and disposes of sewage or solid waste.
    • Discuss your visit and what you learned with your counselor.
    • Describe how sewage and solid waste should be disposed of under wilderness camping conditions.
  2. Visit a food service facility, such as a restaurant or school cafeteria.
    • Observe food preparation, handling, and storage. Learn how the facility keeps food from becoming contaminated.
    • Find out what conditions allow microorganisms to multiply in food, what can be done to help prevent them from growing and spreading, and how to kill them.
    • Discuss the importance of using a thermometer to check food temperatures.
    • Discuss your visit and what you learned with your counselor.

Requirement 5 Helps and Answers

Video Resources

Wastewater Treatment Plant: Do you know where your poop goes?! Join us on a recorded tour of this treatment plant to see how poop, trash, and other contaminants are removed from wastewater.

Food Service Safety: Learn about the steps which should be taken to safely produce food in a facility. It covers handling, preparing, and storing food safely.

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 6: Health Dangers

  1. Describe the health dangers from air, water, and noise pollution.
  2. Describe health dangers from tobacco use and alcohol and drug abuse.
  3. Describe the health dangers from abusing illegal and prescription drugs.

Requirement 6 Helps and Answers

Air Pollution and Your Health

Some hazards from air pollution:

  • Respiratory disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer

Read more

Drinking Water and Health

If drinking water contains unsafe levels of contaminants, it can cause health effects:

  • Skin irritation
  • Nervous system problems
  • Developmental issues
  • Cancer
  • Waterborne illnesses

Read more

Health Effects of Noise Pollution

The potential health effects of noise pollution include:

  • Increased stress levels
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Hearing damage
  • Reduced concentration
  • Communication development

Read more

Health Effects of Smoking

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Read more

Health Effects of Drinking

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Cancer
  • Accidents
  • Poor judgement

Read more

Health Effects of Drug Abuse

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Lung disease
  • Mental disorders

Read more

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 7: Health Agencies

With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do ONE of the following:

  1. Visit your city, county, or state public health agency.
  2. Familiarize yourself with your city, county, or state health agency’s website.

After completing either one of these, do the following:

  1. Compare the four leading causes of mortality (death) in your community for any of the past five years with the four leading causes of disease in your community. Explain how the public health agency you visited is trying to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of these leading causes of illness and death.
  2. Explain the role of your health agency as it relates to the outbreak of diseases.
  3. Discuss the kinds of public assistance the agency is able to provide in case of disasters such as floods, storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other acts of destruction. Your discussion can include the cleanup necessary after the disaster.

Requirement 7 Helps and Answers

Directory of Local Health Departments

NACCHO has created a tool to help you search for local health departments in your area. Find contact information for local health departments using the map.

See the map

Video Resources

Public Health Department Tour: A tour of the Public Health Department and the partnerships and services it offers that oversee environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. The Public Health Department also works with community partners to strengthen emergency-preparedness and response capabilities.

Public Health Merit Badge Requirement 8: Careers in Public Health

Pick a profession in the public health sector that interests you. Find out the education, training, and experience required to work in this profession. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.

Requirement 8 Helps and Answers

Public Health Careers with Summaries and Requirements

Learn about being a

  • Health educator
  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and Technician
  • Biostatistician
  • Epidemiologist
  • Social and Community Service Manager
  • Hospital Administrator
  • Clinical Trials Scientist
  • Healthcare Consultant
  • Survey Statistician
  • Public Health Nurse

See the education requirements and details

Other Resources for the Public Health Merit Badge

Germ Transfer Demonstration for the Public Health Merit Badge

This video provides a great demonstration for how to show kids how easily germs spread. The powder is a safe way to simulate germs. Like germs it cannot be seen. “Infect” one or two people with the powder. Then check the area and other people with the black light later and see how the “germs” have spread.

Related Troop Program Features for Public Health Merit Badge


Fitness and Nutrition


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