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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Mangoes are sliced in preparation for exportation from South America. Global food distribution increases the risk of widespread epidemics if food becomes contaminated.

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Food Safety

Foodborne diseases are largely preventable—but the goal requires vigilance in every step from the farm to the table. Good agricultural and manufacturing practices can reduce the spread of microbes among animals and prevent contamination of foods.
Advocates have recommended that all food safety activities be consolidated into a single federal agency with a unified mission.
Monitoring the entire food production process can pinpoint hazards and identify control points where contamination can be prevented, limited, or eliminated. A formal method for evaluating risk control is called the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, or HACCP (pronounced “has-sip”), system. First developed by the National and Aeronautics Space Administration to ensure that the food eaten by astronauts was safe, HACCP safety principles are now being applied to a widening range of foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, fruit juices, and other products.
 
In recent years, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, food safety advocates, and legislators have documented problems resulting from the fragmented nature of the nation’s food safety system. At least a dozen federal agencies, implementing at least 30 different laws, have roles in overseeing the safety of the nation’s food supply. Advocates have recommended that all food safety activities be consolidated into a single federal agency with a unified mission.
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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: If you have a cold or the flu, taking antibiotics will help treat the infection.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, not viral infections such as influenza and the common cold. In fact, inappropriate use and overuse of antibiotics contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. 

  • Correct!

    Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, not viral infections such as influenza and the common cold. In fact, inappropriate use and overuse of antibiotics contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. 

Infectious Disease Defined

Encephalitis

Inflammation of the brain, often caused by a virus.

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