The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response (2003)

Infectious diseases are a global hazard that puts every nation and every person at risk. The SARS outbreak is a prime example. Knowing neither geographic nor political borders, often arriving silently and lethally, microbial pathogens constitute a grave threat to the health of humans. Indeed, a majority of countries recently identified the spread of infectious disease as the greatest global problem they confront. Throughout history, humans have struggled to control both the causes and consequences of infectious diseases and we will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.

Following up on a high-profile 1992 report from the Institute of Medicine, Microbial Threats to Health examines the current state of knowledge and policy pertaining to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases from around the globe. It examines the spectrum of microbial threats, factors in disease emergence, and the ultimate capacity of the United States to meet the challenges posed by microbial threats to human health. From the impact of war or technology on disease emergence to the development of enhanced disease surveillance and vaccine strategies, Microbial Threats to Health contains valuable information for researchers, students, health care providers, policymakers, public health officials, and the interested public.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

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.