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: 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.

Where do microbes live?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Microbes live in all of these places. They also live in plants and in the air. They can even survive in extreme environments like hot springs, deep ocean thermal vents, and polar ice.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Microbes live in all of these places. They also live in plants and in the air. They can even survive in extreme environments like hot springs, deep ocean thermal vents, and polar ice.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Microbes live in all of these places. They also live in plants and in the air. They can even survive in extreme environments like hot springs, deep ocean thermal vents, and polar ice.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Microbes live in all of these places. They also live in plants and in the air. They can even survive in extreme environments like hot springs, deep ocean thermal vents, and polar ice. 

  • Correct!

    Microbes live in all of these places. They also live in plants and in the air. They can even survive in extreme environments like hot springs, deep ocean thermal vents, and polar ice.

For which of the following diseases do we currently lack an effective vaccine for prevention?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Although there are treatments available in the form of antivirals, we still currently lack a vaccine for HIV.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Although there are treatments available in the form of antivirals, we still currently lack a vaccine for HIV.

  • Correct!

    Although there are treatments available in the form of antivirals, we still currently lack a vaccine for HIV.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Although there are treatments available in the form of antivirals, we still currently lack a vaccine for HIV.

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.

How many people in the United States die from flu-related complications each year?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About 36,000 people die from flu-related complications each year in the United States. More than 200,000 are hospitalized.

  • Correct!

    About 36,000 people die from flu-related complications each year in the United States. More than 200,000 are hospitalized.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About 36,000 people die from flu-related complications each year in the United States. More than 200,000 are hospitalized.

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.

True or False: Growing evidence suggests that infections are behind many chronic diseases once thought to be caused by genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors.

  • Correct!
    Growing evidence does suggest that infections are behind many chronic diseases once thought to be caused by genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors, including peptic ulcers and cervical, liver, and gastric cancers.
  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Growing evidence does suggest that infections are behind many chronic diseases once thought to be caused by genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors, including peptic ulcers and cervical, liver, and gastric cancers.

Due in large measure to the toll of infectious diseases, the gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest countries now exceeds how many years?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest countries now exceeds 40 years.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest countries now exceeds 40 years.

  • Correct!

    The gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest countries now exceeds 40 years.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest countries now exceeds 40 years.

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.

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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