The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance: Evaluating Systems for the Early Detection of Biological Threats—Abbreviated Version, Summary (2009)

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the anthrax letters, the ability to detect biological threats as quickly as possible became a top priority. In 2003 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced the BioWatch program, a federal monitoring system intended to speed detection of specific biological agents that could be released in aerosolized form during a biological attack.

The present volume evaluates the costs and merits of both the current BioWatch program and the plans for a new generation of BioWatch devices. BioWatch and Public Health Surveillance also examines infectious disease surveillance through hospitals and public health agencies in the United States, and considers whether BioWatch and traditional infectious disease surveillance are redundant or complementary.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Washing your hands with soaps that have residue-producing antibacterial products, such as those containing the chemical triclosan, have been proven to confer health benefits.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Washing with regular soap is considered the most important way to prevent disease transmission. Routine consumer use of residue-producing antibacterial products has no added benefit and may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance.

  • Correct!

    Washing with regular soap is considered the most important way to prevent disease transmission. Routine consumer use of residue-producing antibacterial products has no added benefit and may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance.