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What is Infectious Disease Epidemiology?

By October 16, 2019Chronic Disease

Infectious diseases are among the leading causes of serious health problems around the globe. The population wide study of infectious diseases is called ‘infectious disease epidemiology’. Epidemiologists are trained professionals who work to design and implement large-scale strategies to prevent infection, prevent the development of diseases, and to find ways to better treat these conditions when they emerge. 

In the United States, senior citizens and other immunocompromised are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are more likely to develop serious medical conditions and have a harder time fighting off an infectious disease. That being said, with proper home healthcare services, infectious diseases can more effectively be prevented and, if they develop, better treated. 

Infectious Disease Epidemiology: Understanding the Basics

Epidemiology is a branch of medicine that studies the causes, prevalence, distribution, and potential control strategies of disease. Infectious disease epidemiology focuses on conditions caused by infectious pathogens. These are some of the most dangerous and disruptive health conditions that affect humans. The profession of these medical experts involves identifying infectious diseases, tracking them, and implementing effective control methods—sometimes including vaccinations—to stop outbreaks. Some of the most notable examples of infectious diseases include: 

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV);
  • Hepatitis B; 
  • Hepatitis C;
  • Tuberculous (TB); 
  • Malaria; 
  • Dengue; 
  • Salmonella; and
  • Lyme Disease. 

One of the biggest challenges of dealing with infectious diseases is that these conditions —including the risk factors, causes, and treatment strategies—are not always well understood. Sadly, not all conditions can be treated. Further, when treatment options are available, they are sometimes difficult to implement. 

As an example, the bacteria involved in Lyme Disease was not officially identified until the early 1980s. The condition is still not completely understood today. Many medical professionals still disagree on how exactly the Lyme Disease should be treated. Still, scientists have made tremendous progress. In fact, researchers note that in the late 20th century, improvements in the way we handle infectious diseases have resulted in chronic degenerative diseases becoming the most serious health issue in developed countries (Barreto, 2006). 

Infectious Diseases Remain a Leading Cause of Morbidity and Mortality

While the developed world has become far better at treating infectious diseases, it is important to understand that disease is a very serious public health problem: infectious diseases are still among the leading causes of death worldwide. Epidemiologists continue to do the big picture work of taking action and developing plans to protect our society at a population wide level. 

Of course, for normal people, it is crucial that they are able to get access to the right health care services. The global effects are secondary to the direct personal effects. Fortunately, modern medical care has made great strides in decreasing the adverse effects of infectious diseases. Indeed, research has found that infectious disease (ID) specialists can make a major impact in reducing mortality related to these conditions (Schmitt, 2013). 

How an infectious disease will be treated depends entirely on the specific nature of the condition. For example, many of these conditions are treated with antiviral medications. Other conditions may be treated with antibiotics. Regardless, it is imperative that people—especially senior citizens and other vulnerable people—receive a timely and accurate diagnosis. With most infectious diseases, serious problems emerge when at-risk people are unable to get access to the right care. The seasonal flu, which is a relatively mild annoyance for many people, kills 80,000 Americans every year. Most of those people are young children, senior citizens, or otherwise immunocompromised. 

Free Home Healthcare Services May Be Available 

At United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care, we are committed to providing attentive, professional home health services at no cost to EEOICPA beneficiaries and RECA beneficiaries. If you or your loved one is dealing with an infectious disease and needs care, we can help you explore all the available options. Early intervention is the key to treating any infectious disease. To learn more about what we can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact our home healthcare professionals for assistance. 

 

Sources: Barreto. M. & Teixeira, M.G. (2006) Infectious Diseases Epidemiology. J Epidemiol Community Health. Mar; 60(3): 192–195. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2465549/ 

Schmitt, S. & McQuillen, D. (2013) Infectious Diseases Specialty Intervention Is Associated With Decreased Mortality and Lower Healthcare Costs. Clinical Infectious Diseases. Volume 58, Issue 1, 1 January 2014. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/58/1/22/372657