The National Academies

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

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

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

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

Explore Other Topics

What do you know about infectious disease?

Which are examples of ways that pathogens (disease-causing microbes) can spread?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All are examples of ways that pathogens can spread. Coughing is an example of airborne droplet transmission; eating undercooked pork is an example of common vehicle transmission; a flea bite is an example of vector transmission; and breathing contaminated dust particles is an example of airborne transmission.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All are examples of ways that pathogens can spread. Coughing is an example of airborne droplet transmission; eating undercooked pork is an example of common vehicle transmission; a flea bite is an example of vector transmission; and breathing contaminated dust particles is an example of airborne transmission.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All are examples of ways that pathogens can spread. Coughing is an example of airborne droplet transmission; eating undercooked pork is an example of common vehicle transmission; a flea bite is an example of vector transmission; and breathing contaminated dust particles is an example of airborne transmission.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All are examples of ways that pathogens can spread. Coughing is an example of airborne droplet transmission; eating undercooked pork is an example of common vehicle transmission; a flea bite is an example of vector transmission; and breathing contaminated dust particles is an example of airborne transmission.

  • Correct!

    All are examples of ways that pathogens can spread. Coughing is an example of airborne droplet transmission; eating undercooked pork is an example of common vehicle transmission; a flea bite is an example of vector transmission; and breathing contaminated dust particles is an example of airborne transmission.

Infectious Disease Defined

Parasitism

A close relationship between two organisms in which one organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the host organism.

View our full glossary

National Academies

Search the National Academies Press website by selecting one of these related terms.