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

The National Academies

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.



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


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?


Infectious disease isn’t limited by national borders. Learn how our modern way of life contributes to the spread and emergence of disease.


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

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Infectious Disease Videos

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What You Need to Know About Infectious Disease

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What do you know about infectious disease?

Which are larger?

  • Correct!

    Bacteria are 10 to 100 times larger than viruses.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Bacteria are 10 to 100 times larger than viruses.

Infectious Disease Defined


Short for ribonucleic acid, RNA is a type of single-stranded molecule of nucleic acids that contains ribose and is responsible for controlling a number of chemical activities within cells.

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Disease Watchlist


Trichinosis is caused by the larvae of the roundworm (a helminth), which live in contaminated meat. If people eat contaminated meat that has not been cooked long enough, the larvae can enter the intestine.

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