Our understanding of diseases often follows a predictable journey. First, we begin to understand that a group of symptoms occur together. For example, we know that a sore throat can occur with cough and fever. Next, we learn to split hairs, separating disorders that appear similar but have different causes and courses. The sore throat with fever, cough, difficulty swallowing, and white spots on the tonsils is not like the one that doesn’t have these extra features. We often learn about the disease’s course before we know what causes the disease. In the case of the more severe sore throat, its potential for leaving serious heart damage was understood before its cause, strep infection, was made possible by advances in diagnostic techniques. Once a cause is known, researchers may be able to design a specific treatment, but not always. We know the antibiotics that are likely to defeat strep throat, but we still have no cure for the more common viral sore throat.