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

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Prevention & Treatment

Vaccines & Medicines

Medicines have existed in human society probably as long as sickness itself. However, with the advent of the modern pharmaceutical industry, biochemical approaches to preventing and treating disease have acquired a new level of prominence in the evolving relationship between microbes and their human hosts.

Vaccines

Many diseases that were once common—such as polio, measles, mumps, and tetanus—are now rare or well controlled because of vaccines.

We may not like getting vaccinated, but it has contributed greatly to our protection from harmful, if not deadly, diseases. Learn what vaccines are and how they work.

More about vaccines

Antibiotics & Antivirals

As bacteria and viruses mutate (or change), antibiotics and antivirals can lose their effectiveness against them.

When you become ill with a bacterial or viral infection, your doctor commonly prescribes an antibiotic or antiviral medication. Find out more about the use of these medicines and what is challenging their effectiveness.

More about antibiotics & antivirals

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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?

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. 

Infectious Disease Defined

Cirrhosis

A condition caused by chronic liver disease characterized by the development of scar tissue leading to a loss of liver function.

View our full glossary

National Academies Press

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