Epidemiology studies the origin, behavior, frequency, and potential factors of human diseases. This branch of medicine is essential within the public health programs for its obvious impact on social stability in the population.
Within its functions is to detail the natural history of diseases in the community, and by defining the risk factors, diseases become preventible or controllable. As a consequence, contact tracing and behaviors can be established along with health control strategies to cushion the impact and diminish morbidity and mortality.
Epidemiology is based on the scientific method. Therefore, it works hand in hand with statistics and demography in the face of new diseases, gathering data, analyzing it, and creating a hypothesis that will later be confirmed through experimentation.
Diseases are classified under three base patterns:
We talk about an epidemic when it is abrupt, and a high percentage of people are infected at the same time. A pandemic is an epidemic that is highly contagious and is disseminated throughout various territories. An example of the previous is the current COVID-19 crisis caused by the ARS CoV-2 virus.
In most cases, the Epidemiological results are leading to the development of vaccines to prevent disease.Our body can protect itself from external harmful agents thanks to our Immune System. When a new disease attacks the body, this one produces the necessary antibodies to combat it on a molecular level. If it overcomes the disease, it generates a memory that now knows how to fight the face of a new contagion. This natural job that the body performs isn't always achieved. Some people may be immunocompromised (because of other diseases), or the pathogen may be so vicious that it will attack severely by eventually causing death.
Here is where vaccines intervene. Vaccines are made of the weakened pathogen. They stimulate the immune system when reacting to the pathogen and therefore developing antibodies. Vaccines are a preventive measure that helps diminish or prevent the disease.
The most efficient method known today to prevent infectious diseases is vaccination. It is responsible for the global eradication of smallpox and the considerable decrease of polio, measles, and tetanus. This method is known as "collective immunity," where most people in a population are vaccinated, and therefore new outbreaks are avoided. This is a great way to successfully and collectively protect those people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
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