Infectious diseases touch the lives of everyone on the planet. On a worldwide scale, infectious diseases account for 26% of all deaths, second only to cardiovascular diseases. And unlike chronic diseases, infectious diseases are unique in their potential for explosive global impacts.
In fact, infectious diseases have shaped the course of human events numerous times:
The fall of the Roman Empire: Malaria may have contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. Romans were used to the non-fatal strain of vivax malaria, but later encountered a new mosquito species that brought the deadly falciparum malaria form.
World War I: Tuberculosis was so rampant in the French army that 150,000 troops were sent home. In total, the countries involved in WWI lost over a million citizens to TB.
World War II: Many battles in the South Pacific between U.S. and Japanese armies were solely for the purpose of securing islands that supported the growth of quinine—the first and most important antimalarial compound at the time. More soldiers died in the South Pacific from malaria than actual combat!
Now, in the 24 engaging lectures of An Introduction to Infectious Diseases, you can get a comprehensive overview of diseases from the mundane to the fatal with renowned physician and award-winning professor Dr. Barry Fox of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Stepping into Dr. Fox’s classroom will give you unparalleled access to a physician who has dedicated his career to this topic, providing the most reliable, clear, in-depth and up-to-date information.
Zoom in to the Microscopic World
First and foremost, understanding infectious disease requires an overview of the microscopic particles responsible for them: bacteria, viruses, hybrid germs, and fungi. You will:
see how various types of infectious diseases invade the body;
look through the microscope at pathogens to identify their inner components;
follow germs through to different body systems and see what effects they have; and
learn why we may be losing the battle against some germs.
One particularly fascinating facet of this course is its focus on history. Step back in time and experience the world as the scientists and doctors of the day saw it.
Hippocrates Defies Tradition: The ancient Greeks believed that disease was caused either by miasma (bad air) or a punishment meted out by the gods. Hippocrates was imprisoned for daring to postulate his own theories. During his 20 years in prison, he wrote The Complicated Body, which set a course for the future of modern medicine.
Fathers of Microbiology: Anton van Leeuwenhoek, who started his career examining fabric in a dry goods store, honed the power of magnifying lenses and eventually discovered bacteria in 1674. Robert Hooke improved upon the design of the microscope, confirmed van Leeuwenhoek’s discoveries, and coined the word “cell.”
Germ Theory of Disease: The miasma theory of disease held sway for centuries, until scientists like Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur were able to prove that microorganisms were responsible for infectious disease. Koch’s four postulates set the standard for proof of infectivity up to the present day, and Pasteur’s contributions to science were so monumental that he was declared a national hero.
Technological Discoveries: With each discovery, from the electron microscope to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostic technology, witness the progress that scientists are making in the field of infectious diseases every decade.
Dr. Fox’s enthusiasm for teaching science comes through in the stories he tells about each of the major discoveries—and stumbling blocks—in the study and treatment of infectious disease.
Preventing Infectious Disease in Your Daily Life
When it comes to preventing infectious disease, knowledge is power. In the popular media, the subjects of infectious disease, vaccinations, and medications are fraught with misinformation and hyperbole. Dr. Fox cuts through the myths and provides a solidly scientific guide to keeping yourself and your loved ones as protected as possible from pathogens.
Vaccinations: Vaccines are the single safest medical procedure for you, your children, and your grandchildren. Dr. Fox devotes an entire lecture to explaining how vaccines work, debunking popular myths, and explaining how herd immunity works—and when it doesn’t.
Healthy Habits: Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 24 seconds eliminates the vast majority of harmful organisms. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also effective, but not against norovirus (so if you’re on a cruise, wash your hands!). Other simple habits like leaving your shoes at the door and putting the lid down on the toilet before you flush can help keep your home healthy.
Travel Preparations: Your primary care physician is actually not the best person to consult before you travel abroad. A travel clinic can help you determine which medications to pack, any precautions you need to take regarding food and drink, and any boosters or new vaccines you may need.
A Global Responsibility
Globalization has added yet another factor to the study and prevention of infectious disease. Before the advent of accessible world travel, an epidemic could only spread locally—but now, one could spread worldwide in a matter of days. We saw this firsthand when the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was carried to the United States via air travel.
Dr. Fox acknowledges the gravity of such an outbreak and reviews probable scenarios in the final lecture, inviting you to apply your knowledge and help him predict the next pandemic.
About 50% of prescribed antibiotics are used incorrectly or unnecessarily. Dr. Fox identifies exactly which infections will benefit from antibiotics and which will resolve with other treatments. Responsible antibiotic use today ensures that the next generation can benefit from these indispensable drugs.
A Trusted Professional Resource
Throughout these 24 information-packed lectures, Dr. Fox delivers clear and up-to-date information on dozens of infectious diseases. As a practicing physician in the field of infectious diseases, he is the ultimate authority on this topic—and you will have him “on demand” as a personal resource in this engaging course.
Whether you have a love for biology, a curiosity about the world’s many infectious diseases, or a certain amount of trepidation about what the future holds, you will enjoy Dr. Fox’s impeccable bedside manner, insider knowledge, and humorous personal stories. And most importantly, you will be empowered to make the best choices for yourself, your loved ones, and future generations.
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