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An Introduction to Infectious Diseases

Arm yourself with scientific facts about bacterial infections, viruses, vaccines, and more in this engaging course by an award-winning professor and physician.
An Introduction to Infectious Diseases is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 63.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent content Very good broad overview of the field. I appreciated introductions to many diseases and infections I had heard of but didn't actually know much about. This course is also incredibly eerie with its spot-on predictions of "the next pandemic" in light of recent events. My complaint with this course is that, although it's clear that The Great Courses' target audience is primarily older white Americans, not all of us fit that profile, and this lecturer makes quite a few alienating comments throughout the course. For example, he frequently tries to relate to the audience by talking about their grandchildren, he assumes lack of sexual activity ("So, if we are monogamous adults, why should we worry about STDs?"), and also reveals an American-centric attitude (e.g. "mosquitoes infecting innocent US citizens" as if others infected deserved it somehow?, "[TB virus] migrated, like us, out of Africa over time", "our health and world health are inextricably linked together, whether we like it or not" where "world" is code for "poor countries" etc). Since these courses are available for anyone to stream, why not simply assume a more general audience? It's fine to limit the scope of the course to focus on infectious disease in the US, but my objection is related to making assumptions about the audience, and to the dismissive attitude towards those outside of the US.
Date published: 2021-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exciting presentation Well done, easily understood. Highly recommended for science lovers.
Date published: 2021-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Timely, invaluable. I paid a great deal of attention to this course long before the pandemic struck. As, when I lived in Asia, I forgot a prophylaxis and was condemned to typhoid, I take such a threat seriously. We live in a time in which many are threatened by medicine/science, for largely ideological "reasons." This course, while noe embedding you in the competition of medical school, may help to guide you through what may save us. Thanks, Teaching Company.
Date published: 2021-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative, practical, and engaging The course "An Introduction to Infectious Diseases" was taught by a practicing clinician who presented 24 lectures that covered a range of topics. The course began by introducing bacteria, fungi, and viruses and distinguishing them from each other. This was followed by a description of some milestones in the history of antimicrobial and antiviral therapies. A discussion of antibiotics and vaccines were presented along with an explanation of the immune system. Subsequent lectures dealt with a range of diseases, their origins, strategies to avoid them, and a perspective on modern disease threats. In some lectures, the presentation was made more engaging by using examples of problems encountered within the clinician's own family. Dr. Fox is an engaging and articulate speaker. His mastery of the subject matter is obvious with no trace of arrogance. There was, it seemed to me, an excellent balance between science offered at an intelligent, but readily understandable level and history, historical failures and successes, and some prognostication. One lecture was titled "Stay out of the hospital." The advice was offered in a non-accusatory way but realistic way. The final lecture of this 2015 course predicted that the next pandemic would likely be viral and arise from Asia. I recommend the course to anyone wants to better understand the risks of germs in our lives so that proper accommodation to reality can be made.
Date published: 2021-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really well done ! I really enjoyed this. Very informative and clear. I would like to see a second edition of it - this course is about 5 years old. Covid and the new vaccine technologies to combat it seem like a good reason for an update...
Date published: 2021-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great general overview of many different topics I much enjoyed this lecture program! Working in medicine, I found this a very good blend for a wide range audience having basic information and a little more advanced technical information available. Like the vast majority of other courses I've viewed, there is always more to learn than in the 24 (give or take) lectures available in all the courses, and this one certainly is no different, considering the vast amount of knowledge available on this topic alone.
Date published: 2021-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to Understand, good lecturer, lots of materia How prophetic the last chapter was. My wife and I gained a much denser understanding of the disease. Frankly, it helped a lot for us to understand, cope with, and protect us from COVID.
Date published: 2020-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful For Teachers! I taught taught high school, then university premed. and biology courses before becoming a physician. Since retiring from medicine, I've been teaching high school and college classes as a guest. (Yes, I love teaching.) Dr. Fox is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but, also, brings each topic into vivid perspective. He highlights the impacts of infectious diseases on major historical events, and, also, individual lives, past and present. If you are a scentient being you will find this course engaging. It will be especially useful to teachers at the junior high, high-school and university levels who wish to make life sciences relevant and exciting to their students. There are great stories, here, to be shared! Chris. PhD, MD
Date published: 2020-10-19
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Infectious diseases affect everyone. They account for 26% of all deaths worldwide, and unlike chronic diseases, they have the potential for explosive global impacts. In An Introduction to Infectious Diseases, get an accessible overview of diseases-from the mundane to the fatal-from a renowned physician who specializes in this topic. This comprehensive course provides the most reliable and up-to-date information.


Barry C. Fox
Barry C. Fox

Infectious diseases have played a significant role in changing the course of human history.


University of Wisconsin
Dr. Barry Fox is a Clinical Professor of Infectious Disease at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He currently practices in clinical infectious disease at two hospitals and a long-term care facility. He received his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and his medical degree from Vanderbilt University. He is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease. He was named the Medical Educator of the Year by the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1994 and was chosen by the Internal Medicine Residency Program as the Attending of the Year in 1991. Dr. Fox has been chosen numerous times as a Top Doc by Madison Magazine. On a national level, he has been recognized as one of the Best Doctors in America and made the list of America's Top Physicians compiled by the Consumer Research Council of America. Dr. Fox has authored or coauthored four book chapters and over 40 articles in a wide assortment of peer-reviewed journals; he also has presented abstracts and given presentations to audiences around the world. In addition, he serves as a peer reviewer for medical journals. He is a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and is a member of the Emerging Infections Network. He was also elected as a Fellow for the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Dr. Fox is a member of the worldwide Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics.

By This Professor

An Introduction to Infectious Diseases
An Introduction to Infectious Diseases


The Dynamic World of Infectious Disease

01: The Dynamic World of Infectious Disease

Dive into the fascinating stories behind three notorious diseases: bubonic plague, malaria, and polio. See how scientists of the time were able to discover the causes of these diseases and develop effective treatments. Also, learn why infectious diseases are still a pressing issue for our society, despite our advances in science and technology....

32 min
Bacteria: Heroes and Villains

02: Bacteria: Heroes and Villains

Start your study of the basic elements of germ theory with bacteria. Once you've inspected the anatomy of a bacterium cell and its function, explore how bacteria can cause disease and how they can adapt to make themselves elusive to your immune system. Then, investigate three diseases caused by bacteria: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus....

32 min
Viruses: Hijackers of Your Body's Cells

03: Viruses: Hijackers of Your Body's Cells

Zoom in to see a particle 100 times smaller than bacteria: the virus, which can replicate inside living cells. Follow the life cycle of a virus as you see what viruses like HIV and Ebola do to host cells. Meet two germs that fall between bacteria and viruses-the spirochete and rickettsia....

33 min
Moldy Menaces and Fungal Diseases

04: Moldy Menaces and Fungal Diseases

Although fungal diseases usually don't involve humans, they can indirectly affect us, and they have played a major role in human history. Investigate diverse infections that can be acquired when you come into contact with mold or fungus-sometimes by raking or blowing rotting leaves! Also learn whether or not you should have your household duct system cleaned regularly....

31 min
Milestones in Infectious Disease History

05: Milestones in Infectious Disease History

Where would we be without the scientists that brought to life the inventions and discoveries that are the foundations of modern medicine? In this lecture, meet some of the people who developed the tools to identify microorganisms, the means to pinpoint the source of a disease, the vaccinations to prevent them, and the drugs to treat them....

33 min
Antibiotics: A Modern Miracle Lost?

06: Antibiotics: A Modern Miracle Lost?

Trace the history of antibiotic development and explore how the eight classes of antibiotics attack bacterial infections. Gain an introduction to the increasingly important concern of antibiotic resistance, and learn how you can contribute to the more prudent use of antibiotics....

33 min
Which Germs in Your Daily Life Matter?

07: Which Germs in Your Daily Life Matter?

Microbes are all around us-the question is "What do we have to worry about?" From airplanes to restaurants, hotel rooms to your master bathroom, learn how you can protect yourself from germs without becoming totally obsessed with them. Is there any truth to the Five Second Rule? Find out in this lecture....

31 min
Six Decades of Infectious Disease Challenges

08: Six Decades of Infectious Disease Challenges

Track the history of infectious diseases decade by decade: the easily cured childhood illnesses of the 50s, the diseases spread by risky behaviors in the 60s, and the outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in the late 70s, followed by the tragedies of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in the 80s and 90s....

31 min
Vaccines Save Lives

09: Vaccines Save Lives

From routine childhood vaccinations to the experimental vaccines given to Ebola patients in Africa and the United States, vaccines have a powerful effect on public health. Learn the facts about the four different types of vaccines and their components, and discover why the concept of herd immunity is critical to public health....

32 min
The Immune System: Our Great Protector

10: The Immune System: Our Great Protector

Take a closer look at the intricate components of your body that try to protect you from dangerous infectious diseases. Then, explore immunosenescence-the changes in your immune system as you age-and learn proven ways to keep your immune system strong and prevent illness....

32 min
Zoonosis: Germs Leap from Animals to Humans

11: Zoonosis: Germs Leap from Animals to Humans

Seventy percent of infectious diseases originate from wildlife. Why are new diseases-such as bird flu and swine flu-so prevalent, and how are these exotic diseases being transmitted from animals to humans? Learn how to protect yourself from these diseases, including two you can get from your cat....

33 min
Tick-Borne Diseases: A Public Health Menace

12: Tick-Borne Diseases: A Public Health Menace

These small ectoparasites have emerged in force and have created a new public health crisis. Discover why tick-borne diseases are so easy to contract but difficult to diagnose, and get the facts about Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne illness in the United States....

31 min
Food-Borne Illness: What's Your Gut Feeling?

13: Food-Borne Illness: What's Your Gut Feeling?

From traveler's diarrhea to food poisoning, explore a myriad of illnesses that can enter the body through the food you eat. Gain an awareness of a severe bacterial infection that is on the rise in hospitals, particularly in patients over age 65....

32 min
Respiratory and Brain Infections

14: Respiratory and Brain Infections

Turn now to severe respiratory and central nervous system illnesses that may have deadly consequences. Zoom in to the cellular level to see how complicated these infections can be, and how deadly pneumonia and bacterial meningitis can become. Learn to recognize the symptoms of pneumonia and meningitis, and when to seek medical attention....

30 min
Flesh-Eating Bacteria and Blood Poisoning

15: Flesh-Eating Bacteria and Blood Poisoning

Continue your study of the body with infections that affect the skin and bloodstream, including the powerful sepsis infection, which is responsible for 10% of deaths in the United States. Get the facts on necrotizing fasciitis, or "flesh-eating bacteria," and travel back 40 years to follow the evolution of the resistant bacteria MRSA....

32 min
STDs and Other Infections below the Belt

16: STDs and Other Infections below the Belt

Begin this lecture with a fascinating story of a twist of fate in 1951 that turned out to be one of the most important developments in medical history. Then, study infections that attack the urinary tract and pelvic organs, and learn more about the wide range of sexually transmitted diseases....

31 min
Stay Out of the Hospital!

17: Stay Out of the Hospital!

Go behind the scenes at a hospital, and unveil the truth: what is perceived as a pristine and sterile environment is really bustling with all kinds of germs. Discover why some hospitals forbid their doctors to wear white coats and wedding rings, and learn what you can do to protect yourself if you must be hospitalized....

31 min
The Nemesis of Mankind: HIV and AIDS

18: The Nemesis of Mankind: HIV and AIDS

More than three decades after the first cases of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) were reported, the global health community is still dealing with a pandemic of 33 million infected people, of which about 3 million are children. Learn the scientific facts behind this virus and why it is so difficult to find a vaccine or cure....

31 min
Malaria and Tuberculosis: Global Killers

19: Malaria and Tuberculosis: Global Killers

In spite of a multitude of global efforts to decrease their mortality rates, these two ancient diseases are still the deadliest in the world. Go beyond vaccines and mosquito netting and see the innovative experiments being conducted in an attempt to eradicate malaria and tuberculosis....

32 min
Global Travel, War, and Natural Disasters

20: Global Travel, War, and Natural Disasters

Witness the toll infectious diseases take on populations during times of war and natural disasters, using examples from Napoleon's armies to modern-day Syria. Then, learn why your personal physician isn't the best person to talk to about risks when you're about to embark on foreign travel....

32 min
Influenza: Past and Future Threat

21: Influenza: Past and Future Threat

Despite being a common disease, the flu is responsible for some of the deadliest pandemics of all time. Explore two important biological aspects of influenza-antigenic drift and antigenic shift-to understand why changes in viruses can have such a huge impact on disease prevalence....

32 min
Bioterrorism: How Worried Should We Be?

22: Bioterrorism: How Worried Should We Be?

Explore the three scenarios that pose the greatest threats in a bioterrorism attack: an airborne agent like anthrax, a smallpox attack, and a release of botulinum toxin in cold drinks. Understand the steps that the CDC takes to protect the public and what you can do as an average citizen....

32 min
Emerging and Reemerging Diseases

23: Emerging and Reemerging Diseases

The outbreak of Ebola in 2014 in West Africa became an international crisis in a matter of weeks-even traveling across the ocean to the United States. Explore deadly emerging and reemerging diseases that continually challenge our detection and response abilities....

31 min
Outbreak! Contagion! The Next Pandemic!

24: Outbreak! Contagion! The Next Pandemic!

Using your newly acquired infectious disease knowledge, look into the future and discern what the next pandemic might be-one that would reach all continents quickly, be difficult to treat, be extremely deadly, and perhaps threaten the very survival of the human race!...

35 min