CCST9008 Scientific and Technological Literacy
Infectious Disease in a Changing World


Course Description

Infectious disease is one of the key threats to global health. The emergence of new pathogens, the re-emergence of old pathogens, the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance, and the threat of bioterrorism pose substantial difficulties to public health and patient management. HIV, SARS, avian influenza and pandemic influenza, extensively-resistant and totally-resistant tuberculosis, cholera, community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and other multiple-resistant or pan-resistant bacteria are just some recent reminders that emerging infections can strike both the developing and industrialized countries equally. China, as the most populous country in the world and one of the fastest growing economies, has also been one of the epicenters for emerging infectious diseases. This course aims to: (i) introduce the concepts of microbes and infection; (ii) introduce the concepts of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and their local and global significance; (iii) illustrate the importance of infectious disease in the history of humankind; (iv) study the role of nations in the global control of emerging infectious diseases, with special reference to China and Hong Kong; (v) examine some basic tools to understand infectious diseases and the pathogens; and (vi) explore some of the controversial issues in the prevention and management of infectious diseases.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the interaction between microbes and humans in infectious diseases.
  2. Describe the environmental, ecological, social, historical, and human factors in determining the epidemiology of infectious diseases.
  3. Balance the risk and benefits of vaccination as a preventive measure for infectious diseases.
  4. Demonstrate understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of some important emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that are locally or globally important.
  5. Demonstrate understanding of the importance of a free flow of information in the global control of infectious diseases.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 8
Practical classes 6
Visit to the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences 3
Reading / Self-study 30
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 25
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 25
Assessment: In-class test 3
Total: 120

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
In-class test 25
Topic presentation and report 25
Short essay 25
Participation in tutorial discussions 25

Required Reading

  • Greenwood, D. (2007). Medical microbiology: A guide to microbial infections: Pathogenesis, immunity, laboratory diagnosis and control (17th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Nelson, K. E., & Williams, C. M. (2007). Infectious disease epidemiology: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
  • Pommerville, J. C., & Alcamo, I. E. (2007). Alcamo’s fundamentals of microbiology (8th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Recommended Reading

  • Engelkirk, P. G., & Duben-Engelkirk, J. L. (2008). Laboratory diagnosis of infectious diseases: Essentials of diagnostic microbiology. Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Lashley, F. R., & Durham, J. D. (2007). Emerging infectious diseases: Trends and issues (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.
  • Schlossberg, D. (2008). Clinical infectious disease. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Winn, W. C., & Koneman, E. W. (2006). Koneman’s color atlas and textbook of diagnostic microbiology (6th ed.). Philadelphia, PA; London: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Recommended Website(s)


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr S.S.Y. Wong
Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4714
Email: samsonsy@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr S.S.Y. Wong
Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4714
Email: samsonsy@hku.hk
Dr P.L. Ho
Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4892
Email: plho@hku.hk
Professor J.S.M. Peiris
School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 7537
Email: malik@hku.hk
Professor K.Y. Yuen
Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4892
Email: kyyuen@hku.hk