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

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Mangoes are sliced in preparation for exportation from South America. Global food distribution increases the risk of widespread epidemics if food becomes contaminated.

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Food Safety

 
Foodborne diseases are largely preventable—but the goal requires vigilance in every step from the farm to the table. Good agricultural and manufacturing practices can reduce the spread of microbes among animals and prevent contamination of foods.
Advocates have recommended that all food safety activities be consolidated into a single federal agency with a unified mission.
Monitoring the entire food production process can pinpoint hazards and identify control points where contamination can be prevented, limited, or eliminated. A formal method for evaluating risk control is called the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, or HACCP (pronounced “has-sip”) system. First developed by NASA to ensure that the food eaten by astronauts was safe, HACCP safety principles are now being applied to a widening range of foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, fruit juices, and other products.
 
In recent years the U.S. Government Accountability Office, food safety advocates, and legislators have documented problems resulting from the fragmented nature of the nation’s food safety system. At least a dozen federal agencies, implementing at least 30 different laws, have roles in overseeing the safety of the nation’s food supply. Advocates have recommended that all food safety activities be consolidated into a single federal agency with a unified mission.
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Disease Watchlist

What do you know about infectious disease?

The 1918 influenza pandemic (the so-called “Spanish” flu) is estimated to have killed how many people worldwide?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

  • Correct!

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

Infectious Disease Defined

Morbidity

The relative occurrence of a disease or condition that causes illness.

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National Academies Press

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