The National Academies

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

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

What do you know about infectious disease?

Which deadly pathogen cannot be found naturally in the wild:

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

  • Correct!

    Smallpox cannot be found naturally in the wild. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated from the globe in 1980, after an 11-year WHO vaccination campaign—the first human disease to be eliminated as a naturally spread contagion. Today, the virus remains only in laboratory stockpiles.

The 1918 influenza pandemic (the so-called “Spanish” flu) is estimated to have killed how many people worldwide?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

  • Correct!

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

Which of the following global events does NOT have an impact on the spread of infectious disease:

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

  • Correct!

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The expanded use of cell phones does not have an impact on the spread of infectious disease. Climate change, ecosystem disturbances, war, poverty, migration, and global trade all contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

Roughly how many microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  • Correct!

    About ten trillion microbes live in the human gastrointestinal tract. They are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

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.

True or False: Major pharmaceutical companies have great interest in dedicating resources to the antibiotics market because these short-course drugs are more profitable than drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

  • Correct!

    Drugs that treat chronic conditions and lifestyle ailments are more profitable. Modern medicine needs new kinds of antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections, but antibiotic research and development are expensive, risky, and time-consuming.

Each year, how many Americans become infected by what they eat?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Each year about 76 million Americans—or one in four—become infected by what they eat. Approximately 325,000 are hospitalized. More than 5,000 (14 a day) die.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Each year about 76 million Americans—or one in four—become infected by what they eat. Approximately 325,000 are hospitalized. More than 5,000 (14 a day) die.

  • Correct!

    Each year about 76 million Americans—or one in four—become infected by what they eat. Approximately 325,000 are hospitalized. More than 5,000 (14 a day) die.

About what percentage of the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds to promote growth?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Almost 70% of all the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds—not to fend off disease but to boost growth. These non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics are a perfect way to cultivate microbes that are resistant to antibiotics.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Almost 70% of all the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds—not to fend off disease but to boost growth. These non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics are a perfect way to cultivate microbes that are resistant to antibiotics.

  • Correct!

    Almost 70% of all the antibiotics produced in the United States is added to animal feeds—not to fend off disease but to boost growth. These non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics are a perfect way to cultivate microbes that are resistant to antibiotics.

True or False: Our bodies contain at least 10 times more human cells than bacterial cells.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Our bodies contain at least 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. 

  • Correct!

    Our bodies contain at least 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. 

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Disease Watchlist

Infectious Disease Defined

White Blood Cell

A special type of cell that works as part of the immune system to defend the body against disease and infection.

View our full glossary