Infectious Disease and Public Health Focus

Infectious disease may be defined as the clinically manifest infection, resulting from the sickness caused by pathogens such as virus, fungi, bacteria, protozoa, parasites, prions, etc. These pathogens if not controlled, may result in the disease epidemics and acute public health crisis (Infectious disease, 2012). This paper aims to discuss infectious disease and public health focus with reference to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease caused by Coxsackie virus in Japan, and avian flu disaster vigilance plans by Maryland Health and Agriculture Department in Maryland State of the USA.

Focus on communicable public health problems. In the community, the individuals suffer from infectious as well as chronic diseases. The chronic ailments like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, etc. are becoming more common in many nations and a cause of concern to the health economics of the world. The health management and disease control for each of these disease categories is dependent on several factors, and the focal point has to be prioritized as and when necessary. One thing is certain there would not be much damage in case of chronic ailments, as the disease development is slow and mortality rate is also low with space-time. But the infectious diseases are capable of wiping out populations in an area in a rapid time, if public health measures are found wanting.

There should be no complacency regarding the control of transmissible diseases such as cancer, malaria, dengue, AIDS, tuberculosis, and other viral infections. There was a dengue outbreak in Delhi, India in 2006, and it became a serious public health problem (PubMed, 2012). The panic among the inhabitants was paramount and the low preparedness for such an outbreak added to the public confusion, and increased morbidity. Similarly, there was SARS epidemic in China in 2003, which eventually spread to other parts of the world because of low level of public and scientific knowledge combined with poor health solutions (World Health Organization GAR Home, 2012).

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD). HFMD is a familiar infirmity found in infants and children, characterized by initial symptoms of fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters. It is caused by Coxsackie virus of the Picornaviridae family. The typical incubation period is 3 to 7 days. It is fairly transmittable with mode of infection spread through direct contact via mucus, saliva, stool, etc. The infected individuals remain contagious during the first week. It is not transmitted through animals or pets. So, the host and the reservoir of the infection are play school children and infants (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).

The control of the HFMD is brought about by efforts that span over disease surveillance, quarantine, contact tracing, immunization, prophylaxis, and other public health regulatory measures. Hospital and community surveillance system is put on alert for the epidemic response. The infected children are screened for the virus, and are isolated. The questionnaire is prepared to understand the history of the patient, to obtain information on risk factors and transmission patterns. The public provision of water supply, sanitation, and care takers at nurseries, breast feeding data, and vaccination history is obtained to ascertain the cause of the infection (Chang, Luan-Yin, et al., 2002). The community health centers and the institutional disease surveillance centers have responsibility to pool out the data thus obtained and come out with effective control mechanics involving proper immunization programmes and prophylactic measures (National Association of County and City Health Officials, 2012). Advanced scientific center NASA has developed a biosensor to detect biohazards so that the precautionary measures could be adopted as early (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2008). Thus, the health regulatory measures need to focus on specific infected individuals, society and the environment.

Maryland Health Department Avian Flu Preparedness Plans. After going through the websites of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2012) and Department of Agriculture (Maryland Department of Agriculture, 2012) with respect to influenza-like illness (MapCruzin.com, 2012), and avian flu disease outbreaks (FLU.GOV, 2012) and the public health measures taken by the state authorities for disaster mitigation has appeared to be meticulously planned, and have systematically adopted policies for a significant high level of preparedness. These are quite in place and adequate, with the early epidemic response team being the only worry. It is to be mentioned that there are certain codes of conduct and ethics that need to be followed during the crisis. There will be a priority population that would be vaccinated ahead of the general population. First responders like police, firefighters, and public health personnel need to be vaccinated first as they are sent to tackle the problem and are more prone to infection (World Health Organization SAGE, 2012). Among the general masses, the young ones get vaccinated first considering their immune power when compared to the adults, who can survive the pathogen. The plans for which group to be vaccinated first is well laid out in state health policies or WHO framework, according to political, ethical, operational, economic and public health aspects, and hence should be agreed and followed in emergencies.

References

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Caused by Coxsackievirus A6, Japan, 2011. Web. 

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