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

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases (2009)

H1N1 ("swine flu"), SARS, and mad cow disease are a few examples of zoonotic diseases—diseases transmitted between humans and animals. Zoonotic diseases are a growing concern given their often novel and unpredictable nature, their ability to emerge anywhere and spread rapidly around the globe, and their major economic toll on several disparate industries. Infectious disease surveillance systems are used to detect this threat to human and animal health. By systematically collecting data on the occurrence of infectious diseases in humans and animals, investigators can track the spread of disease and provide an early warning to human and animal health officials, nationally and internationally, for follow-up and response. Unfortunately, and for many reasons, current disease surveillance has been ineffective or untimely in alerting officials to emerging zoonotic diseases.

Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases assesses some of the disease surveillance systems around the world and recommends ways to improve early detection and response. The report presents solutions for improved coordination between human and animal health sectors, and among governments and international organizations.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that was used in some vaccines and other products, has been shown to present a risk to human health.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The use of thimerosal has been an object of controversy, with some arguing that the substance caused autism in children. However, extensive independent research has presented no convincing evidence of harm associated with the low levels of thimerosal previously present in vaccines.

  • Correct!

    The use of thimerosal has been an object of controversy, with some arguing that the substance caused autism in children. However, extensive independent research has presented no convincing evidence of harm associated with the low levels of thimerosal previously present in vaccines.