Modern vaccines are among our most effective strategies to prevent disease. Many devastating diseases can now be prevented through appropriate immunization programs. In the United States, it is recommended that all children be vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, polio, measles, rubella (German measles), mumps, Haemophilus influenza type B (a common cause of pneumonia and meningitis in infants), hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox) and influenza.
Travelers to foreign countries may require vaccinations against yellow fever, cholera, typhoid fever or hepatitis A or B.
Public Health Measures
Measures that assure clean water supplies, adequate sewage treatment, and sanitary handling of food and milk also are important to control the spread of infectious disease.
The fight against infectious diseases requires worldwide surveillance by physicians, scientists and public health officials who gather information on communicable diseases, report new or resurgent outbreaks of disease, and develop standards and guidelines for treating and controlling disease.
The development of antibiotics and other antimicrobials has played an important role in the fight against infectious diseases, but some microorganisms develop resistance to the drugs used against them. Modern physicians must prescribe antibiotics carefully, and research and development of new drugs is needed. The more widely antibiotics and antivirals are used, the more likely it is that antimicrobial-resistant strains of microorganisms will emerge.