The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The Resistance Phenomenon in Microbes and Infectious Disease Vectors: Implications for Human Health and Strategies for Containment—Workshop Summary (2003)

The emergence of mysterious new diseases, such as SARS, and the looming threat of bioterrorist attacks remind us of how vulnerable we can be to infectious agents. With advances in medical technologies, we have tamed many former microbial foes, yet with few new antimicrobial agents and vaccines in the pipeline, and rapidly increasing drug resistance among infectious microbes, we teeter on the brink of losing the upper hand in our ongoing struggle against these foes, old and new. The Resistance Phenomenon in Microbes and Infectious Disease Vectors examines our understanding of the relationships among microbes, disease vectors, and human hosts, and explores possible new strategies for meeting the challenge of resistance.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: If you have a cold or the flu, taking antibiotics will help treat the infection.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, not viral infections such as influenza and the common cold. In fact, inappropriate use and overuse of antibiotics contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. 

  • Correct!

    Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, not viral infections such as influenza and the common cold. In fact, inappropriate use and overuse of antibiotics contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.