The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

New infectious diseases are emerging and old ones are appearing in new places around the globe. What’s behind this trend? And to what extent has human behavior amplified the problem? The National Academies, advisers to the nation in science, engineering, and medicine, provide the information you need to understand this complex topic.

Infection

Microbes are all around us. Most don’t do any harm, and many are beneficial, but what about the few that cause infection? Learn the basics.

Threats

Certain aspects of disease are a particular threat to us today. What are some of the things we're most concerned about in the United States?

Challenges

National borders do little to block the path of infectious disease. Learn how our modern way of life contributes to the emergence and spread of diseases.

Prevention

What do we need to do—as individuals and as a society—to stave off the threat of emerging infectious disease?

Explore Other Topics

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.

Infectious Disease Defined

Yeast

A broad group of microscopic fungi that includes harmless forms of yeast used in baking and alcoholic fermentation as well as pathogenic species that can cause disease. 

View our full glossary

Disease Watchlist

Diarrheal Diseases

Caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, diarrheal diseases are spread through contaminated food or water, or because of insufficient hygiene practices. Diarrhea is defined as having three or more loose stools per day. 

Learn More