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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Prevention & Treatment

Vaccines & Medicines

Medicines have existed in human society probably as long as sickness itself. However, with the advent of the modern pharmaceutical industry, biochemical approaches to preventing and treating disease have acquired a new level of prominence in the evolving relationship between microbes and their human hosts.



Many diseases that were once common—such as polio, measles, mumps, and tetanus—are now rare or well controlled because of vaccines.

We may not like getting vaccinated, but it has contributed greatly to our protection from harmful, if not deadly, diseases. Learn what vaccines are and how they work.

More about vaccines

Antibiotics & Antivirals

Antibiotics & Antivirals

As bacteria and viruses mutate (or change), antibiotics and antivirals can lose their effectiveness against them.

When you become ill with a bacterial or viral infection, your doctor commonly prescribes an antibiotic or antiviral medication. Find out more about the use of these medicines and what is challenging their effectiveness.

More about antibiotics & antivirals

Explore Other Topics

What do you know about infectious disease?

Which are larger?

  • Correct!

    Bacteria are 10 to 100 times larger than viruses.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Bacteria are 10 to 100 times larger than viruses.

Infectious Disease Defined


A serious mental illness characterized by the presence of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or thinking, a loss of contact with reality, and a noticeable deterioration of functioning in everyday life.

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