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Epidemiology, the Basis for Public Health

The study of epidemiology includes the examination of infectious disease, mental health and health-related events such as accidents or violence, and occupational and environmental exposure and their effects, as well as the examination of positive health states (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Additionally, the study of epidemiology includes research into the morbidity and mortality of chronic illnesses that are found in the United States and across the globe. Infectious diseases like polio, TB, measles, and malaria have been almost eliminated in the United States; however, these diseases continue in other parts of the world for a variety of reasons. Highly contagious infectious diseases can and do lead to death despite the fact that many are preventable. The United States has used childhood vaccinations to prevent and eradicate illnesses such as smallpox and polio. In order to reduce the incidence of malaria in the United States, DDT—a known carcinogen in humans that is also toxic to birds—and other pesticides were used in the past and have since been replaced with nontoxic insecticides and larvicides to reduce the numbers of mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, developing countries often do not have the resources to engage in the same sorts of prevention programs and may have to resort to unsafe or toxic means to control vectors. They may not have the financial resources or health care personnel available to engage in mass vaccination campaigns. In addition, countries that experience frequent wars, acts of terrorism, and political instability face additional challenges to the provision of health care to their populations, especially when faced with an outbreak of an infectious disease.

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Epidemiology, the Basis for Public Health

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This week, you will focus on the epidemiology of infectious and communicable disease and how nursing practices change in response to threats and outbreaks.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze public health settings in relation to prevention of disease transmission
  • Analyze public health nurse’s role in outbreak investigations
  • Apply the epidemiological triangle for an infectious or communicable disease outbreak
  • Analyze leadership roles of nurses in bringing an outbreak under control
  • Evaluate nursing strategies for health promotion in mitigating outbreaks

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