The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that was used in some vaccines and other products, has been shown to present a risk to human health.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The use of thimerosal has been an object of controversy, with some arguing that the substance caused autism in children. However, extensive independent research has presented no convincing evidence of harm associated with the low levels of thimerosal previously present in vaccines.

  • Correct!

    The use of thimerosal has been an object of controversy, with some arguing that the substance caused autism in children. However, extensive independent research has presented no convincing evidence of harm associated with the low levels of thimerosal previously present in vaccines.

Which is the vector (animal that carries the pathogen) for West Nile virus?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The mosquito is the vector for West Nile virus. The mosquito suffers no ill effects from the virus but transmits it to humans and other warm-blooded creatures (such as crows) when it takes a blood meal. 

  • Correct!

    The mosquito is the vector for West Nile virus. The mosquito suffers no ill effects from the virus but transmits it to humans and other warm-blooded creatures (such as crows) when it takes a blood meal. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The mosquito is the vector for West Nile virus. The mosquito suffers no ill effects from the virus but transmits it to humans and other warm-blooded creatures (such as crows) when it takes a blood meal. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The mosquito is the vector for West Nile virus. The mosquito suffers no ill effects from the virus but transmits it to humans and other warm-blooded creatures (such as crows) when it takes a blood meal. 

About how many airline passengers cross international borders daily?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    An estimated 1.8 million airline passengers cross international borders daily, creating routes by which human infections can radiate around the world within hours.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    An estimated 1.8 million airline passengers cross international borders daily, creating routes by which human infections can radiate around the world within hours.

  • Correct!

    An estimated 1.8 million airline passengers cross international borders daily, creating routes by which human infections can radiate around the world within hours.

Which of the following can be treated with antibiotics?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics. The common cold and influenza are both viral infections, which do not respond to antibiotics. Antivirals may be prescribed instead.

  • Correct!

    Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics. The common cold and influenza are both viral infections, which do not respond to antibiotics. Antivirals may be prescribed instead.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics. The common cold and influenza are both viral infections, which do not respond to antibiotics. Antivirals may be prescribed instead.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics. The common cold and influenza are both viral infections, which do not respond to antibiotics. Antivirals may be prescribed instead.

Which of the following is needed to help improve the public health situation in developing countries?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Correct!

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

What fraction of all deaths worldwide are caused by infectious disease?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About one quarter of all deaths worldwide are caused by infectious disease. More than two-thirds of the deaths in children under the age of five are caused by infectious disease.

  • Correct!

    About one quarter of all deaths worldwide are caused by infectious disease. More than two-thirds of the deaths in children under the age of five are caused by infectious disease.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About one quarter of all deaths worldwide are caused by infectious disease. More than two-thirds of the deaths in children under the age of five are caused by infectious disease.

True or False: Scientists predict that rising average temperatures in some regions will change the transmission dynamics and geographic range of cholera, malaria, dengue fever, and tick-borne diseases.

  • Correct!

    Scientists predict that rising average temperatures in some regions—a result of climate change—will change the transmission dynamics and geographic range of cholera, malaria, dengue fever, and tick-borne diseases.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Scientists predict that rising average temperatures in some regions—a result of climate change—will change the transmission dynamics and geographic range of cholera, malaria, dengue fever, and tick-borne diseases.

Which deadly pathogen cannot be found naturally in the wild:

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

  • Correct!

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

True or False: Our bodies contain at least 10 times more human cells than bacterial cells.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Our bodies contain at least 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. 

  • Correct!

    Our bodies contain at least 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. 

Each year, how many Americans become infected by what they eat?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Each year about 76 million Americans—or one in four—become infected by what they eat. Approximately 325,000 are hospitalized. More than 5,000 (14 a day) die.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Each year about 76 million Americans—or one in four—become infected by what they eat. Approximately 325,000 are hospitalized. More than 5,000 (14 a day) die.

  • Correct!

    Each year about 76 million Americans—or one in four—become infected by what they eat. Approximately 325,000 are hospitalized. More than 5,000 (14 a day) die.

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Disease Watchlist

Infectious Disease Defined

Biological Agent (Terrorism)

A bacterium, virus, or other biological toxin used in bioterrorism or biological warfare.

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