Epidemics can be very frightening. They often occur due to not having a way to fight the disease. Once one person gets an infectious disease, they spread it to others, who spread it to others and eventually large groups are infected. If there is no cure, it just continues to spread, lives are lost, and populations are severely hurt. There is a lot we can learn, though, from past epidemics about how to handle modern day issues.
One of the most well-known epidemics was smallpox. This disease spread rather quickly, and there was no way to combat it. It was a horrible infection that took the lives of a large number of people. Treating it was difficult and impossible is some cases. Eventually, a vaccine was developed and widely spread. This invention allowed for the disease to be completely wiped out in the U.S. Now, there isn’t even a reason for anyone to be vaccinated against it.
Cholera was a horrible disease that cost many their lives. It isn’t transmitted from person to person, though. The key to stopping this epidemic was providing clean water sources. This included installing modern sewer systems and using water treatment facilities. It is still around in developing countries, but because we know more about it, it is much easier to prevent it from becoming a major epidemic.
Scarlet fever is caused by bacteria. It occurs after someone has had strep throat. At one point, it became a major epidemic because the cause was misunderstood. Eventually, though, health officials figured it out. It used to be believed that improvements in nutrition helped bring the epidemic to an end, but it’s more likely that public health procedures helped. Public health agencies were able to spread awareness, encouraging people to get checked for strep throat and treat it early to prevent the bacteria that causes scarlet fever.
There are still concerns over epidemics these days. Good examples are what happened with HIV in the 1980s or the most recent issue with the Zika virus. However, due to advances in public health, the widespread use of vaccinations and better sanitation situations, epidemics don’t often reach the extremes they used to. In fact, most disease outbreaks are very controlled and never manage to spread much further than the initial site where they began.
Modern public health involves good mapping of health situations, as shown by USC. In addition, the healthcare system in the U.S. is very advanced. High-tech equipment and devices help make it much easier to fight diseases. Also, with the ecosystem of the healthcare system, which you can click here to learn about, news spreads more easily and keeping patients and providers informed is much more simple than in the past.
Epidemics can be devastating. They can kill and ruin lives. However, they can be prevented, especially using today’s advanced medical knowledge and abilities. By staying connected and on top of what is happening, public health agencies are able to prevent the spread of disease so it doesn’t get to the point where it becomes an epidemic.