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?

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.

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.

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. 

How long did it take the 2009 “swine flu” pandemic to spread to 30 countries?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 2009 “swine flu” pandemic starkly illustrated the impact of globalization and air travel on the movement of infectious diseases—with the infection spreading to 30 countries within six weeks and to more than 190 countries and territories within months.

  • Correct!

    The 2009 “swine flu” pandemic starkly illustrated the impact of globalization and air travel on the movement of infectious diseases—with the infection spreading to 30 countries within six weeks and to more than 190 countries and territories within months.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 2009 “swine flu” pandemic starkly illustrated the impact of globalization and air travel on the movement of infectious diseases—with the infection spreading to 30 countries within six weeks and to more than 190 countries and territories within months.

Which of the following diseases is NOT caused by a virus?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection. Chicken pox, the common cold, and influenza are all caused by viral infections.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection. Chicken pox, the common cold, and influenza are all caused by viral infections.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection. Chicken pox, the common cold, and influenza are all caused by viral infections.

  • Correct!

    Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection. Chicken pox, the common cold, and influenza are all caused by viral infections.

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.

In 2008, about how many people worldwide were infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2008, more than 33 million people worldwide were infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). In that same year, an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), the final stage of HIV infection.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2008, more than 33 million people worldwide were infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). In that same year, an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), the final stage of HIV infection.

  • Correct!

    In 2008, more than 33 million people worldwide were infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). In that same year, an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), the final stage of HIV infection.

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.

True or False: The only way public health agencies can deal with infectious disease is to have good surveillance in place, wait for an outbreak to happen in a human population, and then rush to contain it.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By identifying pathogens in the animals where they naturally live and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations.

  • Correct!

    By identifying pathogens in the animals where they naturally live and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations.

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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.

View our full glossary