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: 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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

True or False: Most infectious diseases are not impacted by changes in the environment.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Most infectious diseases are impacted by changes in the environment. Malaria, dengue, and viral encephalitis infections, for example, are highly sensitive to environmental changes.

  • Correct!

    Most infectious diseases are impacted by changes in the environment. Malaria, dengue, and viral encephalitis infections, for example, are highly sensitive to environmental changes.

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.

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.

Place this badge on your Facebook page to show your friends what you know about infectious disease.

Get the badge

Place this badge on your Facebook page to show your friends what you know about infectious disease.

Get the badge

OR, get a higher score to unlock a different badge.

Retake the quiz

Place this badge on your Facebook page to show your friends what you know about infectious disease.

Get the badge

OR, get a higher score to unlock a different badge.

Retake the quiz

Explore Other Topics

Infectious Disease Defined

Chronic Disease

Any disease that is long lasting (3 months or more) or recurrent—as opposed to an acute disease—and cannot be prevented by a vaccine or cured by medication.

View our full glossary