Pathogen Management Strategies
Monitoring Disease Activity
What is monitoring disease activity?
In order to control and define disease outbreaks, public health authorities need to know when and where particular infections are occurring. Disease is actively and globally monitored by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and in Australia, a list of 70 notifiable diseases must be reported and notified of diagnoses including influenza, rubella and chickenpox. Outbreaks can then be investigated.
How is disease activity monitored?
Global level monitoring
WHO monitors disease activity
Coordinates global responses to outbreaks
Disease cases monitored by health authorities in each state
Notifiable diseases: public health authorities are informed by doctors over 70 different infectious diseases
Outbreaks then investigated, e.g. ross river virus outbreak in QLD
Limitations: under-reported cases/misinformation/time delays
Incubation time limits speedy responses to outbreaks/epidemics
Internet/social media surveillance
Data from social media can provide information about disease frequency
Google search trackers used for frequency of searches for conditions
Advantage: real time information
Disadvantage: data determined by algorithms, does not always correspond with outbreaks, celebrity bias in data
Outcome: wont replace reporting but good as supplementary source
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How is an outbreak managed?
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Confirm cases meet the criteria for an outbreak
Investigators form a case definition (illness, place and time)
Finding cases, gathering information and developing hypothesis
Contact tracing; people who have been infected are tracked down
Finding the index case (patient zero), the case that started the outbreak
Interviews conducted, environment sampling, information collected
Hypothesis further developed and tested
Implement control measures to control the spread and communicate findings
How can disease spread be predicted?
Mathematical models can be used to predict the spread of a disease, and are important in controlling an outbreak. For a model to have good predictability, it needs to both;
Reflect the complexity of a pathogen
Consider the host, environment and pathogen relationships
What is epidemiology?
Epidemiology is the branch of medicine which is concerned with the distribution, incidence and control of disease. Though there are improvements in prevention and treatments of disease, infectious diseases are still a major cause of death globally. The burden of diseases varies between countries. A lack of access to healthcare, good sanitation, clean drinking water and good nutrition can affect the burden of a disease. Epidemiological studies are used to analyse for possible causes of a disease.