The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

New infectious diseases are emerging and old ones are appearing in new places around the globe. What’s behind this trend? And to what extent has human behavior amplified the problem? The National Academies, advisers to the nation in science, engineering, and medicine, provide the information you need to understand this complex topic.

Infection

Microbes are all around us. Most don’t do any harm, and many are beneficial, but what about the few that cause infection? Learn the basics.

Threats

Certain aspects of disease are a particular threat to us today. What are some of the things we're most concerned about in the United States?

Challenges

National borders do little to block the path of infectious disease. Learn how our modern way of life contributes to the emergence and spread of diseases.

Prevention

What do we need to do—as individuals and as a society—to stave off the threat of emerging infectious disease?

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Major pharmaceutical companies have great interest in dedicating resources to the antibiotics market because these short-course drugs are more profitable than drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

  • Correct!

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

Infectious Disease Defined

Vector

An organism (usually an arthropod such as a flea, mosquito, or tick) that carries an infectious agent from one host to another.

View our full glossary

Disease Watchlist

Cholera

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria and often results in diarrhea. About 3 to 5 million cases of cholera occur each year around the world, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths annually. 

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