Controlling Communicable Disease

Controlling Communicable Disease

Controlling Communicable Disease

Controlling Communicable Disease


Optimism that communicable diseases are no longer a threat is clearly misplaced. New diseases, such as HIV, have appeared and some chronic conditions, such as gastric ulcers, have been shown to be caused by infectious agents. This book is about controlling such diseases, a task that is impossible without surveillance, knowledge of basic microbiology and multi-disciplinary public health teams. The book examines the challenges facing different countries regarding: Surveillance Outbreak investigation Vaccines Specific infections including hepatitis, TB, influenza and gastroenteritis


Surveillance is the backbone of any disease control programme, even if the disease is not of infectious origin. This chapter provides the theoretical background for setting up a surveillance system. It covers the purposes and elements of surveillance, and its scope.

Learning objectives

After studying this chapter you will be better able to:

explain the theoretical basis for setting up a surveillance system

describe the purposes of a surveillance system

define the different types of surveillance

explain the broad scope of what can be put under surveillance

Key terms

Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Another increasing and important
public health problem, not only in hospitals but also in the community.

Prions Proteins which can enter cells and convert intracellular proteins into replica prions,
causing infection. Human-to-human transmission occurs through blood transfusion, growth
hormone injections, tissue transplants, food.

Reye syndrome Rare serious condition affecting infants and young children, causing brain and
liver disease; associated with use of aspirin.

vCJD (Variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease) A fatal brain disease caused by prions, spread from
cows with a brain infection.

Definition of surveillance

Two dictionary definitions of surveillance follow:

Chambers Dictionary: vigilant supervision; spy-like watching; superintendence.

Oxford English Dictionary: supervision; watch or guard; especially over a suspected person.

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