Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Measles, and Vaccines
Many of you are probably familiar with infections, which is the development or multiplication of an infectious agent in the human body. Infectious diseases are the result of infections, and there are many ways to study the spread of such diseases. Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution, patterns, and determinants of health and disease conditions in a defined population. Epidemiological studies allow for researchers and public health officials to determine ways in which to combat a disease, and prevent its outbreak in a population. Vaccinations are one of the common methods used for such purpose, which is a preventative measure that people can take in order to avoid disease in the first place. We are living in the midst of a global pandemic of a historic magnitude, which has affected numerous facets of our lives. Understanding the underlying concepts and studies behind infectious diseases & vaccinations will be important for future healthcare workers.
- To introduce the underlying concepts behind epidemiological studies and its importance to public health
- To understand the importance of vaccines in the prevention of infectious diseases and maintenance of population health
- To reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, and how epidemiology and vaccines interplay with the world we face today
Emerging Disease Research
Now that we have learned about infectious disease epidemiology and vaccines, it’s time for us to practice doing some research into a specific disease of our choice. For this module, we want to focus on emerging diseases, or those whose prevalence in the human population has increased in the past 2 decades. For this activity, we would like for you to choose one of the following emerging diseases (list can be found below), find reliable sources on the internet, and write 1~2 paragraphs on the following questions:
- What causes the disease? How does it emerge in the human population?
- How many people has this disease affected?
- What are some of the preventative measures (e.g. vaccines) that exist for the disease today?
Some resources that you may use to search for reliable sources include PubMed (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/), Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/), or other open source journals. There is no maximum or minimum for the number of sources we would like for you to find, but we ask that you have at least one epidemiological study on the disease of your choice.
Here is the list of acceptable emerging diseases (if you have a disease in mind that is not on the list, feel free to use it!):
- HIV or AIDS
- Dengue Fever
- West Nile Virus
- Zika Virus
Good Luck! And feel free to ask questions to Helix members any time!
There is a lot to read about infectious diseases, epidemiology, and vaccinations! Here are some additional resources for you to read more about the information that we provided to you on our lesson slides. In addition, if you are interested, there are may studies out there about epidemiological studies on a variety of diseases! We suggest you check out PubMed (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/), Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/), and other open source journals to read more about specific diseases you may be interested in! Feel free to reach out to any Helix members about finding such articles if you are ever stuck 🙂
World Health Organization: “Module 1: Influenza- What is it and how do you get it?”: https://www.who.int/diseasecontrol_emergencies/training/PI_M1_transmission_jan07.pdf?ua=1
WebMD: “What is the flu?”: https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/what-is-flu
Healthline: “How are Influenza A and B different?”: https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/influenza-a-vs-b
“The Influenza (Flu) Virus”: https://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/cells/viruses/influenzavirus.html
CDC: “Key Facts about Human Infections with Variant Viruses”: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/keyfacts-variant.htm