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VA Researching for You

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are disorders caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Microorganisms that cause disease are collectively caused pathogens.

While many organisms live in and on humans, and are normally harmless or even helpful, some can cause disease under certain conditions. They do so either by disrupting the body's normal processes or by stimulating the immune system to produce a defensive response, resulting in high fever, inflammation, and other symptoms.

Some infectious diseases can be passed from person to person through contact with bodily fluids, coughing, sneezing, and other methods. Others are transmitted from insect or animal bites, or by ingesting contaminated food or water or other environmental exposures.

VA’s Major Infectious Diseases Accomplishments:

Developed and tested effective therapies for tuberculosis through multicenter clinical trials that led to the development of the VA Cooperative Studies Program
2005: Demonstrated the effectiveness of a new vaccine for shingles, a painful skin and nerve infection affecting older adults
2011: Published findings showing a 60 percent or greater decrease in MRSA infections from a VA-wide infection control initiative
2014: Learned that treatment for pneumonia that included the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax) was associated with a significantly lower risk of death and a slightly increased risk of heart attack

Learn more...

Below is a news story that illustrates VA’s commitment to advancing technology and research initiatives to benefit our nation’s Veterans.

Photo of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories facilityThe Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) has been helping meet the demand for VA medical supplies triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, making such items as face shields, desk shields, and nasal testing swabs. (Photo courtesy of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories)

VA technology center switches gears to produce COVID-19 medical supplies

In recent months, the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have touched nearly every industry in the United States. Many government agencies and private businesses have pivoted—whether by mandate or voluntarily—from how they ordinarily do things. That has included changing their production models to help meet the demand for medical supplies triggered by the health crisis.

The Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) has made that transition, too. HERL, a large VA facility that does research, development, and testing on an assortment of technologies, has been producing nasal testing swabs, face shields, and desk shields, and has worked with the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System in Brooklyn to develop an enclosure-like structure on wheels that can be rolled from one hospital bed to another to protect health care workers caring for patients. Read more..

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