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: 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. 

Which of the following is NOT a type of infectious agent?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    White blood cells are not a type of infectious agent. Part of the immune system, white blood cells fight infection rather than cause it. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    White blood cells are not a type of infectious agent. Part of the immune system, white blood cells fight infection rather than cause it. 

  • Correct!

    White blood cells are not a type of infectious agent. Part of the immune system, white blood cells fight infection rather than cause it. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    White blood cells are not a type of infectious agent. Part of the immune system, white blood cells fight infection rather than cause it. 

True or False: Washing your hands with soaps that have residue-producing antibacterial products, such as those containing the chemical triclosan, have been proven to confer health benefits.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Washing with regular soap is considered the most important way to prevent disease transmission. Routine consumer use of residue-producing antibacterial products has no added benefit and may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance.

  • Correct!

    Washing with regular soap is considered the most important way to prevent disease transmission. Routine consumer use of residue-producing antibacterial products has no added benefit and may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance.

True or False: Antibiotics work by introducing an agent that resembles a disease-causing microbe, thus stimulating the body's immune system to recognize it as foreign, destroy it, and "remember" it, so that it can more easily identify and destroy any similar, disease-causing microbes that it later encounters.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The above describes how vaccines work. Antibiotics work by either killing bacteria or stopping them from reproducing, allowing the body's natural defenses to eliminate the pathogens.

  • Correct!

    The above describes how vaccines work. Antibiotics work by either killing bacteria or stopping them from reproducing, allowing the body's natural defenses to eliminate the pathogens.

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.

Roughly how many microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  • Correct!

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Which of the following global events does NOT have an impact on the spread of infectious disease:

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

  • Correct!

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

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.

Which reproduce the fastest:

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Viruses reproduce the fastest. Humans produce a new generation every 20 years or so; bacteria do it every 20 to 30 minutes, and viruses even faster.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Viruses reproduce the fastest. Humans produce a new generation every 20 years or so; bacteria do it every 20 to 30 minutes, and viruses even faster.

  • Correct!

    Viruses reproduce the fastest. Humans produce a new generation every 20 years or so; bacteria do it every 20 to 30 minutes, and viruses even faster.

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