The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs most often caused by bacteria or viruses present in the environment. Pneumonia can range in seriousness, from mild to life-threatening. Pneumonia is more worrisome in adults ages 65 and older and individuals with compromised immune systems. In addition, the strains of pneumonia acquired in health care settings can be virulent. The bacteria present in these strains tend to become resistant to standard antibiotics quickly, resulting in types of pneumonia that are more difficult to treat.

Symptoms
Typical symptoms of pneumonia include cough, shortness of breath, lower than normal body temperature (in older people), sweating, shaking and the chills, chest pain, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue. Because pneumonia is a serious illness, it is important to go to the doctor if the cough persists, especially if it is accompanied by shortness of breath and the chills. Children under the age of 2 and older adults should contact their doctors immediately, as should those with other medical conditions.

Treatment
Before pneumonia can be treated, it is important to diagnose the organism that is causing it. If it is a bacterial infection, identifying which bacteria are the culprit will allow doctors to prescribe the appropriate antibiotic. If the illness is caused by a virus, antiviral medication can be used. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen are helpful for reducing the fever, and cough medicine provides some relief from the cough that often accompanies pneumonia. For older adults who are having trouble breathing, admission to the hospital may be warranted.

Prevention
Because pneumonia may result from a bout of seasonal flu, avoiding that illness by getting the seasonal flu vaccine is a clear preventive measure. Adults ages 65 and older should be vaccinated for Streptococcus pneumoniae, the most common bacteria associated with the disease. Eating properly, following basic sanitation guidelines—such as washing your hands frequently, getting enough sleep, exercising, and not smoking—also goes a long way toward keeping people healthy.

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonia/home/ovc-20204676
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Pneumonia

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What do you know about infectious disease?

If you have strep throat, which of the following forms of medication can be used to effectively treat the infection?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Because strep throat is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, it is treatable with antibiotics but not antivirals. Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent strep throat.

  • Correct!

    Because strep throat is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, it is treatable with antibiotics but not antivirals. Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent strep throat.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Because strep throat is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, it is treatable with antibiotics but not antivirals. Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent strep throat.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Because strep throat is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, it is treatable with antibiotics but not antivirals. Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent strep throat.

Infectious Disease Defined

Nerve Toxin

Also called neurotoxins, these refer to poisonous substances that cause damage to cells in the nervous system.

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