An Introduction to Infectious Diseases

Course No. 1511
Professor Barry C. Fox, M.D.
University of Wisconsin
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Course No. 1511
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What Will You Learn?

  • Learn about various types of infectious diseases, both viral and bacterial.
  • Study how vaccines and antibiotics protect us from the onslaught of germs in daily life.
  • Learn how diseases spread through food, animals, the air, and between people.
  • Learn about realistic pandemics, the potential for future threats, and what you really need to worry about.

Course Overview

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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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    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. x
  • 2
    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. x
  • 3
    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. x
  • 4
    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. x
  • 5
    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. x
  • 6
    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. x
  • 7
    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. x
  • 8
    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. x
  • 9
    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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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! x

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  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 224-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

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Course Guidebook Details:
  • 224-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos, illustrations & diagrams
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Barry C. Fox

About Your Professor

Barry C. Fox, M.D.
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...
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Reviews

An Introduction to Infectious Diseases is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 30.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth the Time and Cost This course is perfect for non-professionals who want to enhance their knowledge. It is presented in a clear and understandable way and is extremely interesting!
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from introduction to Infectious Diseases I was extremely disappointed. I found Professor Fox's presentation style both dull and overly dramatic, and the depth of content unsatisfactory. His use of graphics was minimal and usually irrelevant. With a visual mediium there is tremendous opportunity to use graphics, videos and animations to convey information more effectively and to make the presentation more interesting. And what is the point of that slide show going on in the background? It is very distracting. One last thing: Phytophthora infestans is not a fungus. It is an oomycete, a different branch of the tree of life.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Truly Great Course This professor has a lively and exciting style, and uses plain English to teach about complex subjects. I'd like to watch the entire course in a day, but my brain gets filled after just a few lectures. Bravo, Dr. Fox!
Date published: 2016-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the greatest of the Great Courses Fascinating and important--everyone should listen to it. I'm changing some of my habits!
Date published: 2016-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Overview of Infectious Diseases Let me preface my evaluation by stating that I am a tenured professor of public health with a specialization in environmental epidemiology. I was extremely impressed with the well-organized and dynamic presentation of the infectious diseases as were presented by Dr. Fox. He really covered each of the major infectious diseases through 2015 and even provided intelligent prognostication on possible future infectious disease pandemics. I am sure that if he had presented the lectures just a few months later, he would have also included the Zika virus, which is a current zoonotic disease of multi continental concern. I especially loved the down-to-earth manner in which he presented complex yet interesting topics. The graphics were outstanding. I greatly admired him for injecting some of his family's experiences with some infectious illnesses in order to further add the personal touch. I will definitely be referencing his lecture as I teach some of my undergraduate courses with infectious disease components. As an afterthought, I would love for someone with similar expertise on the many chronic, but non-infectious diseases to provide similar lectures since these ailments are also a large scourge on society's health.
Date published: 2016-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A sneeze is worth a thousand words An informative overview, though I admit I started to lose interest in individual diseases by the time I reached the influenza lecture. I enjoyed that Dr. Fox switched things up and moved on to global concerns for the last few lectures. The bioterrorism lecture was by far my favorite. We assume many diseases won't affect us if we're current on our vaccinations, not traveling through third world tropical countries or eating steak tartar at dodgy restaurants. But bioterrorism is a real threat, especially for those of us who live in or near large cities. And my second favorite lecture was the grand finale. Dr. Fox asks a series of questions to make the listener reflect on the previous lectures and come up with specific elements that could lead to the next possible pandemic. It was an interesting casual "test" of the material had been presented and made the lecture feel almost interactive (as interactive as a pre-recorded lecture can be). On a side note, I found it interesting that the doctor's family has suffered from every disease under the sun; DO NOT marry into that family unless you have a stellar immune system! As to the reviewers who complained that Dr. Fox made too many remarks about hand washing: you obviously have never spent time monitoring people's behavior in public restrooms - or worked in the restaurant industry! It is highly possible that if you are interested in the topic of infectious diseases, you may be the type of person who already agrees with the concept of hand washing and so Dr. Fox is preaching to the choir. I ask you to conduct a little experiment: The next time you're at a busy airport, enter a restroom and stand by the door for 20 minutes. Count the percentage of people who leave without washing their hands. After this experiment, you might find yourself wishing Dr. Fox would end every lecture asking his listeners to wash their hands.
Date published: 2016-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting but a bit too long I enjoyed this course, giving it a 4 (which would be a 7 if TC used a 10 point scale). Dr. Fox is an excellent lecturer; he is an expert on infectious diseases and comes across very well. I found most of the course quite interesting and learned a lot, about the detailed mechanisms of infection, the varieties of pathogens that can afflict people, the prospect of future pandemics, and more. But parts of many lectures came across like a high-school health class lecture about washing your hands, and just wasn't that interesting to me. I think this course would have been more effective with more details on the mechanisms, and cut to 18 lectures. But I did find it worthwhile.
Date published: 2016-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Uneven As someone with a medical background, I was naturally interested in this topic. I didn't expect to be told a lot I didn't know, but thought it might serve as a useful review. Course content: I found the over all structure of the course unclear. It seemed to jump from topic to topic in successive lectures, but with no real plan in mind. I think the topics could have been grouped in a more logical sequence. The course content seemed to alternate between too basic and too technical. It wasn't clear what the target audience was meant to be. Some key concepts were explained in good detail, while others were barely touched on. Some technical terms were not defined or explained, or the explanations were unclear. For example, while some fairly basic vocabulary was displayed on the screen, the lecture on molds used the term "hyphae" with no explanation or definition. Rickettsia and chlamydia are repeatedly described as "midway between bacteria and viruses", without any further explanation, which at best is a gross oversimplification, and really isn't correct at all. The typing of influenza strains (H and N) was explained at some length, while the similar naming of E. coli strains (O and H) was not explained at all. Given the lecturer's credentials, and that The Great Courses credits an "Academic Content Supervisor" in addition to the lecturer, I was surprised to find numerous minor inaccuracies. Prontosil, the first of the sulfa drugs, is referred to as "pro-tonsil"; coccidioidomycosis is referred to as "coccidiomycosis". "Prophylaxis" is repeatedly mispronounced "proflaxis", and "respiratory" as "respitory". HEPA filters were referred to as "high efficiency air particulate". The term "zoonoses" (plural, spelled that way on the screen, and pronounced that way by the lecturer) was referred to as "any infection..."; the singular (zoonosis) was spelled and used correctly in the guidebook. The distinction between antimicrobials and antibiotics was not made (sulfa drugs are not antibiotics), and the distinction between abscess and cellulitis was also not stated clearly. The lecturer stated that "retrovirus" means "uses RNA as genetic material", which of course is flatly wrong; there are many RNA viruses that aren't in the retrovirus family. He failed to make a distinction between biowarfare and bioterrorism. Lecture 13 confused gastrointestinal illness and foodborne illness (C. diff. infection is not a foodborne disease) Lecture 21, on influenza, omitted several important pieces of information: - the segmented genome of Influenza A, and its significance to reassortment - the significance of the cytokine storm to the high pathogenicity of the 1918 strain - the specificity of hemaglutinin to different parts of the airway, and its importance in transmission and severity - and, after starting by talking about Woodrow Wilson contracting influenza during the Paris Peace talks, failed to mention the effect of his illness on the outcome of the Talks and the Treaty of Versaille Lecturer: Like other reviewers, I found Dr. Fox's lecture style to be stiff and uncomfortable. Although I recognize that the use of a teleprompter is commonplace, few lecturers are so obvious about it. His reading of his script was stilted, dramatic or humorous statements were delivered in the same flat monotone, and I got tired of hearing "Did you know..." and "You may be surprised...". His habit of quote-reading-unquote the quotation marks in his text was particularly irritating. I can understand why customers who bought the audio version would have been put off. He gestured incessantly, but his hand gestures were often irrelevant, unnatural, or exaggerated, and sometimes lagged behind his speech, serving only as a visual distraction. He referred repeatedly to "the HIV virus", which is sloppy usage. (the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Virus). Production: The lectures were accompanied by copious images of the microorganisms being discussed, but these images were never given any explanation. The false colour electron micrographs, in particular, could have been replaced by a Jackson Pollock painting, and most viewers would have been no worse off. A large screen display on the back wall of the studio showed a continuous slideshow throughout the lectures, but the images weren't related to what was being said (one was a picture of chromosomes), and simply looped every couple of minutes, serving as another visual distraction. I notice that recent Great Courses lectures have made extensive use of dolley and crane shots. I assume the intent is to try to make the lectures more visually interesting, but the effect is as if the viewer had left his seat in the middle of the lecture and started wandering around the lecture hall, then occasionally leaping into the air and floating around. Some slide transitions were accompanied by the image of a globe speeding past, accompanied by a "swoosh" sound, which again was irrelevant and distracting. So, to summarize, I would recommend this course (but not highly) if you don't know much about infectious disease, and if you keep in mind that some of the information isn't quite accurate. I do think, though, that The Great Courses need to go back and reconsider some of their ideas about visual effects.
Date published: 2016-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Timely and engaging Video download review. ©2015. Guidebook 223 pages. This course captivated me. It emphasized more science than the accompanying course in my set, Medical School for Everyone: Grand Round Cases. So I have to say Infectious Diseases left me with a more satisfying feeling. It’s also worth mentioning that—if you ask me-- the video version would be the way to go if you’re considering it. I liked the organization of the lectures. It’s also peppered with personal anecdotes that make the course more memorable. My goodness, his poor family seems to have had everything, so they’re lucky this is his specialty! Infectious diseases are always in the news, so it is worth your time to see this course so you’re up to date on the spread of viruses and bacteria. Not only do you get a decent portion size of the science behind disease, you occasionally get interesting notes on the history of discovery. The lectures at the end made for a practical review, too. As far as topics go, they’re very relevant and interesting. Quite a few reviewers note Dr Fox’s presentation as being stiff and not so casual. Having access to audio only, perhaps that rings true. But seeing the video, I thought he was just talking slowly and enunciating clearly. He’s got the gestures down pat and kept the walking/talking to a minimum. I was alright with it. Just one last comment…on the pronunciation of zoology. No big deal, but it’s zo•ol•o•gy . In short, thumbs up!
Date published: 2015-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking, Superb Presentation There are so many topics in this course that are valuable to learn. The understanding of the workings of the human immune system in relation to pathogens was presented clearly. The topic of vaccines was the strongest part of this course, in my opinion. The way that vaccines work and their value to humanity is presented in a clear manner. There is so much misinformation being spread about vaccines, so everyone should know how vaccines work and why they are valuable. This course provides this information. Another wonderful part of this course is the discussion of antibiotics and how they work. The professor gives an excellent description of why overuse and misuse of antibiotics is creating serious problems. Infections in hospitals is another area that is explored very well in this course. I'm grateful for what I learned in this course because it will help me to protect my health and to resist the misinformation being spread on the internet. I ordered the class in the audio download format and found it to be excellent. I would have liked to see the video version, but I wanted to listen to the course while making long drives and it was perfectly suited for this.
Date published: 2015-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Indispensable Barry Fox made several comparisons between lives lost due to war and disease. The winner is continually and indisputably disease. Yet, and more importantly, there are preventive measures that we all can learn in effort to reduce these numbers. Therefore, this subject warrants our attention. He generally walks through the basics of the most common of infectious diseases. Many of them are discussed in the news. You are given the basics such as the difference between bacteria and virus to their modes of transmission. You simply receive the what, where, why, who and how. I especially enjoy the ‘how.’ He presents excellent visuals as to how the virus gains access to the cell, hijacks your DNA, reproduces itself using your machinery and then exits the cell only to repeat this process in other cells exponentially. I have no problem with his delivery. The professor is truly capable and very qualified on this subject. We have nothing to lose by viewing this course. If anyone has a problem with the style of presentation then try listening to the average ‘delivery’ at any university for a course priced between $500-$2000. Today, many (probably all) of the TG professors read from a teleprompter. If you want the true, off-the-cuff, lecturers then you have to purchase the older, and less visual, courses from the Teaching Company. Medicine is surrounded by many myths. If you don’t believe me the TC has a course on Medical Myths. It might have to do with belief. So many false beliefs are formed from things we don’t see nor understand. Disease is an excellent example. Just think, if it wasn’t for evidence as the vehicle of progress then we would still be using bloodletting as a medical procedure. Even if we gain access to the true knowledge of our most incapacitating illnesses we still have a bigger obstacle. It is humans as a whole. Barry Fox mentioned Ignaz Semmelweis, the doctor who campaigned to get other physicians to clean their hands before medical procedures. At first this was not accepted by other doctors. It was even ridiculed after presented data demonstrating the reduction of lives lost due to hand cleaning. I was even more shocked to discover that he was sent to a mental institution, put in a straitjacket and beaten (dying shortly afterwards). Why are we so resistant to change even in spite of evidence to the contrary? We have everything to gain if all of us take away just a few things from this course. There are benefits even on a smaller scale. Today, I rarely get the flu or cold or miss work as a result of illness. I used to credit this to vitamin C tablets (which I used to take). I now know there is no connection between the two. It is simply the result of the habit of hand washing thanks to a little but most valuable education.
Date published: 2015-06-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Avoid the Audio Download version, perhaps any vers Where to start? The audio download version of this course has a bunch of editing errors in it, where the speaker repeats the exact same material back to back. It was as if the editor didn't like one take, but forgot to delete it when he added the one he/she did like. The Content of the course is interesting and useful, but the presentation is the worst I have ever heard. I was completely surprised that this was actually course the Great Courses sold. This lecturer presents the material at such a slow pace that it seems as if he is reading from a script, while having just learned to read. Truly, I have heard much better presentations in middle school speech class. The content organization is also terrible. Topics often jump spontaneously and the segues are usually: "while", "now", etc. BOTTOM LINE: Content - useful and informative. Presentation - beyond bad.
Date published: 2015-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intro to Infectious Diseases review The information in this course is well-presented, thorough, and up to date. With infectious disease in the news every day and with human history the paper doll made by the scissors of infectious disease, this course could not be more relevant to the here and now. Dr Fox presents the information with the authority of an experienced expert, the insight of a trusted friend, and the bite that underlies such a critical topic for the human race. I heartily recommend this course to anyone interested in knowing more about the minute to minute war that goes on between our bodies and the little devils that are trying to take over.
Date published: 2015-06-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not perfect but helpful In this course the infectious diseases are discussed, basically, from the epidemological standpoint. I was a little dissapointed because I was expecting a better explanation of the inmune system, as well as several pathogenic agents, such as prions (they are mentioned vey briefly, whithout an expanation of how they reproduce). In this regard, another Great Course: The Human Body: How we fail, How we heal by Dr. Anthony Goodman complements what it is lacking in this course.
Date published: 2015-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Don't forget to wash your hands! My wife and I were excited to order this course on Infectious Diseases. We purchased the DVD set. We found the lectures to be engaging and understandable, even with our limited knowledge of science, in general, and infectious diseases, in particular. The lectures introduced us to a lot of new and interesting facts, many of which we can apply to our everyday lives. For example, people might want to think twice before kissing a pet if you don’t know what diseases it may be carrying! We found the content of the course to be a good overview, aimed at the layman level, but with some technical details for people who might want a little more. The lectures cover a good mix of topics, everything from the causes of infectious diseases (bacteria, viruses, fungi) to the diseases themselves and how they are spread and treated. Other lectures cover global health issues, including pandemics and bioterrorism. The pictures and graphics used make the topics more interesting and more understandable instead of just having the camera pointed at Dr. Fox for the whole lecture. We also appreciated how Dr. Fox included anecdotal stories in his lectures… from his professional career to his own family’s personal experiences with various infectious diseases. Given the number of infectious disease issues that have been in the news in the last few years, this subject is one that people should want to know more about, in part, for our own interests in the U.S., but also to understand what people in other countries are dealing with. Now that the world is so interconnected, one country’s disease problem can quickly become our problem. The recent Ebola outbreak is a good reminder of how a disease in one part of the world can quickly spread to the rest of the world. The last lecture on the threat of a future global pandemic is a little scary to think about. Are we prepared to deal with whatever is to come?
Date published: 2015-05-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Professor was dry, and very hard to follow I purchased this course through Audible. It might have been better, if I had been viewing it instead of just listening, but I had to return it. I could not follow what he was saying. He (at times) used poor grammar, and the whole thing did not seem to measure up to Great Courses standards. I was really disappointed, as this is a subject in which I am really interested.
Date published: 2015-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The medical aspects of inectious disease I have always been curious about infectious disease, but have never really gone to the trouble of learning about it to any great degree. It always seemed to me to be a highly complicated and technical field, where one would have to make a concentrated effort in order to understand the mechanics. Particularly, the highly nonlinear arms race between the micro-organisms, our own bodies and medicine technology was something I wanted to know more about. I was thrilled to see the release of this new course and proceeded to hear it immediately (Audio Version). The first ten lectures of the course lay down the foundations: the different classes of microorganisms that can cause infectious disease (Viruses, Bacteria, molds, and some other microorganisms somewhere in between Bacteria and Viruses), the major medical technologies for fighting infectious disease (primarily vaccinations and antibiotics), and a (very) short explanation of the immune system. This serves as the background for discussing many different infectious disease classes in the next lectures – really the heart of the course. Particular attentions is given to how the disease can be contracted, what the symptoms and complications are, and how contagious the disease is. This is the first course I have taken in the TGC under the category of "Better Living", and so I was not sure exactly what to expect. Indeed it seems to me that the professor was primarily aiming at educating the audience on the practical medical aspects. He put a lot of effort into explaining the possible vaccination options for various diseases, often fine tuning the most optimal options according to age. Another central topic of discussion is the medication that is available for the treatment of the diseases (if at all). My main criticism, is that the biological mechanisms involved in the disease are explained very sketchily, or perhaps more humbly I should say that I had a hard time understanding them. Particularly – I found the explanation of the immune system (which for me was the intended highlight) to be quite superficial, consisting primarily of name listing some of the main components but without in depth physiological and biochemical explanations. Now, it could very well be that my expectations were simply misplaced, and I should have been looking for this in another course (or at least not in this one). Regarding the Professor's lecturing style – I would have to say it is very dry, and any hint of wit or humor is conspicuously missing… His tone is monotonous and sounds as if he is reading the text from a book. In fact, much of his content is written word for word in the guidebook (I actually liked this because I could read along as he spoke). The funny thing is, large parts of what he said were missing from the guidebook and I had a hard time understanding what the criterion for including the lecture material in the guidebook was. I don’t want to sound too harsh though. I am not so hard to please, and if the content is interesting and clearly presented, I don’t mind so much of the presenter is a bit dry and humorless. Having read some other reviews in the TGC though, I know that there are others that are not so easy to please in this respect… Overall I learned a lot of interesting material in an area of knowledge in which I had very little knowledge prior to the course and I feel that it was well worthwhile hearing it.
Date published: 2015-05-03
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