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Office Of Environmental Health & Safety

Epidemiology

What is epidemiology? Epidemiology is a method focusing on finding the health outcomes and diseases that affect the general public. By tracking events and disease transmissions a pattern can be formed that can track where the problem or the issue originated from and may be targeting. 

The key is to track trends through the population rather than individuals that may not provide an accurate picture of occurrence to set prevention measures in place. {The cause (etiology)} 

Areas that are investigated.

-Environmental exposures:

  • Lead and heavy metals
  • Air pollutants and other asthma triggers

-Infectious diseases:

  • Foodborne illness
  • Influenza and pneumonia

-Injuries:

  • Increased homicides in a community
  • Domestic violence
  • Workplace violence, suicide etc.

-Non-infectious diseases:    

  • Localized or widespread rise in a particular type of cancer
  • Increase in a major birth defect
  • Chronic lung disease, stroke, and heart disease, etc.

-Natural disasters:

  • Hurricanes, earthquakes etc.
  • Biological, Chemical releases, etc.

-Terrorism. 

Tracking causal factors such as agents, hosts, and environments - Each represents a balance that if one is interrupted in the disease transmission cycle then the likelihood of transference is disrupted.

For example, in disease transmission per the Center of Disease Control and Prevention:

The traditional epidemiologic triad model holds that infectious diseases result from the interaction of agent, host, and environment. More specifically, transmission occurs when the agent leaves its reservoir or host through a portal of exit, is conveyed by some mode of transmission, and enters through an appropriate portal of entry to infect a susceptible host. This sequence is sometimes called the chain of infection.

https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dsepd/ss1978/lesson1/section10.html

The CDC does provide free literature such as self-enrichment courses that can be found on this page under Resources.