Epidemiology of Communicable Disease

Communicable diseases are \ones that can be transmitted from the source of infection (an infected person, animal, or reservoir) to a host (person or animal). The possible ways of transmitting include direct contact with the source of infection, contact with an intermediary host (plant or animal), or contact mediated by the inanimate environment (air or water). Many communicable diseases cause serious damage to people’s health and may even be fatal, so their prevention is extremely important.

One of the most frequently discussed communicable diseases today is Ebola. Since its outbreak in Western Africa in August 2014, over three thousand people have died from it. Many people are concerned about the risk of infection, but according to public health reports, it is insignificant unless a person visits one of the countries where an epidemic outbreak is currently going on: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone. If people have to travel there, they should follow certain precautions to protect themselves such as not touching bats or non-human primates, avoiding contact with blood or bodily fluids of any person or animal, and washing their hands often. These measures are enough to prevent infection.

The risk of an Ebola outbreak in Europe or Northern America is currently estimated as being very low. The pathogen for this disease is a virus that can be transmitted from bats to people, and also from person to person. In the present outbreak, there have been no cases of Ebola transmitted from an infected person who exhibits no symptoms. The species of bats that is the initial source of the Ebola infection is endemic to Western Africa, and the governments of the affected countries are taking measures to prevent the disease from spreading. For all these reasons, the epidemic is unlikely to extend beyond its current region.

The most widespread communicable disease is the flu. It is caused by a variety of strains that change every year, so new protective vaccines are developed for each season. The best way to prevent influenza is getting immunized.

One of the most lethal (over 90 percent of cases) communicable diseases is rabies. It is transmitted through a bite or a scratch from an infected animal when its saliva gets into human blood or onto mucosal surfaces. If a person has been bitten by an animal that could have rabies, they should immediately call for medical aid. The development of the disease can be stopped by the timely appliance of rabies immune globulin and rabies vaccine.

Most communicable diseases are easier to prevent than to cure. The ways of prevention vary across diseases and include vaccination, immunization, safety, and hygienic precautions. When a communicable disease is at the epidemic threshold, it is essential that measures are taken not only by individuals, but also at national and international levels.

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