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

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Global Challenges

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

Globalization

An estimated 1.8 million airline passengers cross international borders daily.

The rapid movement of people and goods around the world significantly impacts the spread of infectious disease. So do population shifts from the countryside to crowded cities. Discover how our modern way of life is contributing to greater exposure to pathogens.

More about globalization

Climate Change

A number of diseases are highly sensitive to changes in the environment.

Rising average temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, and other effects attributed to climate change are expected to influence the spread of infectious disease. Find out more about the connection between climate and disease.

More about climate change

Ecosystem Disturbances

The clearing and settlement of tropical rainforests exposes woodcutters, farmers, and ecotourists to new vector-borne diseases.

When people move into new environments and are exposed to microbes they may not have encountered before, it can lead to the spread of disease. Changing an ecosystem by clear-cutting a forest or letting farmland revert back to meadows also has an impact. Find out how.

More about ecosystem disturbances

Poverty, Migration & War

Pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria are among the leading causes of death in the developing world in children under the age of five.

Many living in poverty do not have access to clean water, proper sanitation, or much-needed medicines. Disruptions caused by migration and war lead to similar health challenges—and add more. Learn how these circumstances make populations vulnerable to disease. 

More about poverty, migration & war

Bioterrorism

Many public health officials believe that anthrax is the bioweapon of greatest concern.

Deadly pathogens are highly accessible. With the exception of smallpox, they all occur naturally in the wild. Learn more about why biological agents are in some ways the perfect weapon of terror.

More about bioterrorism

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Infectious Disease Videos

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Disease Watchlist

What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Growing evidence suggests that infections are behind many chronic diseases once thought to be caused by genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors.

  • Correct!
    Growing evidence does suggest that infections are behind many chronic diseases once thought to be caused by genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors, including peptic ulcers and cervical, liver, and gastric cancers.
  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Growing evidence does suggest that infections are behind many chronic diseases once thought to be caused by genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors, including peptic ulcers and cervical, liver, and gastric cancers.

Infectious Disease Defined

Schizophrenia

A serious mental illness characterized by the presence of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or thinking, a loss of contact with reality, and a noticeable deterioration of functioning in everyday life.

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National Academies Press

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