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

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Prevention & Treatment

Infectious disease may be an unavoidable fact of life, but there are many strategies available to help us protect ourselves from infection and to treat a disease once it has developed. Some are simple steps that individuals can take. Others are national or worldwide methods of detection, prevention, and treatment. All are critical to keeping communities, nations, and global populations healthy and secure.

Microbe Awareness

The simple act of washing your hands is considered the most important way to prevent disease transmission.

Some easy steps can prevent the spread of infections. Proper handwashing, careful food preparation, and keeping immunizations current are just a few examples. Learn more here. 

More about microbe awareness

Vaccines & Medicines

Infectious disease may be an unavoidable fact of life, but modern medicine can help protect us from infection and treat disease once it develops.

When you think about how we prevent and treat disease, vaccines and medicines probably come to mind first. Learn how biochemical advances have affected our evolving relationship with microbes—and what concerns health officials about the future.

More about vaccines & medicines

Government Policies

The United States depends on the policies of federal and state agencies to help keep us healthy and secure.

Numerous government agencies monitor the spread of infectious disease in the United States. Some experts believe the system needs to be better coordinated. Find out more about who is charged with protecting our nation from disease threats.

More about government policies

International Cooperation

Health networks are listening in on “viral chatter”—the transmission of animal viruses to humans in places like live animal markets or newly settled areas in the tropics.

Infectious disease is not limited by national borders. Nations around the world must work together to help survey the infectious disease landscape—and warn of any disease outbreaks as quickly as possible.

More about international cooperation

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Infectious Disease Videos

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What You Need to Know About Infectious Disease

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Disease Watchlist

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


The specific geographical area or physical environment that is inhabited by an organism or a population of organisms.

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National Academies Press

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