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

The National Academies

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.

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.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the number of people in the world has: 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Since the beginning of the 20th century the number of people in the world has more than quadrupled—from 1.6 billion to nearly 7 billion—and world population is expected to rise to well over 9 billion by 2050.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Since the beginning of the 20th century the number of people in the world has more than quadrupled—from 1.6 billion to nearly 7 billion—and world population is expected to rise to well over 9 billion by 2050.

  • Correct!

    Since the beginning of the 20th century the number of people in the world has more than quadrupled—from 1.6 billion to nearly 7 billion—and world population is expected to rise to well over 9 billion by 2050.

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.

True or False: Not all microbes are harmful to humans.

  • Correct!

    Not all microbes are harmful to humans. In fact, many of them protect us, helping our bodies function properly and competing with harmful organisms in an eternal contest for habitable space in or on our bodies. Although the microorganisms that cause disease often receive more attention, most microorganisms do not cause illness.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Not all microbes are harmful to humans. In fact, many of them protect us, helping our bodies function properly and competing with harmful organisms in an eternal contest for habitable space in or on our bodies. Although the microorganisms that cause disease often receive more attention, most microorganisms do not cause illness.

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 are larger?

  • Correct!

    Bacteria are 10 to 100 times larger than viruses.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Bacteria are 10 to 100 times larger than viruses.

For each child who dies from pneumonia in an industrialized country, about how many children die from the infection in developing countries?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Life-saving vaccines and medications aren’t distributed equitably around the world; for each child who dies from pneumonia in an industrialized country, more than 2,000 children die from the infection in developing countries.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Life-saving vaccines and medications aren’t distributed equitably around the world; for each child who dies from pneumonia in an industrialized country, more than 2,000 children die from the infection in developing countries.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Life-saving vaccines and medications aren’t distributed equitably around the world; for each child who dies from pneumonia in an industrialized country, more than 2,000 children die from the infection in developing countries.

  • Correct!

    Life-saving vaccines and medications aren’t distributed equitably around the world; for each child who dies from pneumonia in an industrialized country, more than 2,000 children die from the infection in developing countries.

True or False: Major pharmaceutical companies have great interest in dedicating resources to the antibiotics market because these short-course drugs are more profitable than drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

  • Correct!

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

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Infectious Disease Defined

Antibiotics

A class of drugs used to kill or inhibit the growth of disease-causing microorganisms. Typically antibiotics are used on bacteria, but in some cases they are also used against other microorganisms, such as fungi and protozoa.

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