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.

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 is NOT a vector-borne disease?

  • Correct!

    Influenza is not a vector-borne disease, meaning it is not transmitted to humans indirectly via an insect, an arthropod, or another animal. Malaria and yellow fever are transmitted by mosquitoes. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Influenza is not a vector-borne disease, meaning it is not transmitted to humans indirectly via an insect, an arthropod, or another animal. Malaria and yellow fever are transmitted by mosquitoes. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Influenza is not a vector-borne disease, meaning it is not transmitted to humans indirectly via an insect, an arthropod, or another animal. Malaria and yellow fever are transmitted by mosquitoes. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Influenza is not a vector-borne disease, meaning it is not transmitted to humans indirectly via an insect, an arthropod, or another animal. Malaria and yellow fever are transmitted by mosquitoes. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks.

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.

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. 

About what percentage of the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds to promote growth?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Almost 70% of all the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds—not to fend off disease but to boost growth. These non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics are a perfect way to cultivate microbes that are resistant to antibiotics.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Almost 70% of all the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds—not to fend off disease but to boost growth. These non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics are a perfect way to cultivate microbes that are resistant to antibiotics.

  • Correct!

    Almost 70% of all the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds—not to fend off disease but to boost growth. These non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics are a perfect way to cultivate microbes that are resistant to antibiotics.

True or False: The clearing and settlement of tropical rainforests has exposed woodcutters, farmers, and ecotourists to new vector-borne diseases.

  • Correct!

    The clearing and settlement of rainforests has exposed woodcutters, farmers, and ecotourists to new vector-borne diseases.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The clearing and settlement of tropical rainforests has exposed woodcutters, farmers, and ecotourists to new vector-borne diseases.

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.

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.

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Disease Watchlist

Infectious Disease Defined

White Blood Cell

A special type of cell that works as part of the immune system to defend the body against disease and infection.

View our full glossary