- An Epidemic is a sudden increase in new cases of a disease
- Endemic diseases are constantly present in low levels in a population
- WHO defines health as: “not merely the absence of disease and infirmity but complete physical, mental
and social wellbeing” (WHO 1978)
- Morbidity refers to sickness
- Mortality refers to death
- Incidence is the number of new cases of a particular disease in a specific population within a given time
- Prevalence is the number of cases of a disease within a specific population at any given time.
- Usually expressed as rate: per 100, per 100,000 etc.
- A vector is any living agent that carries and transmits an infectious organism from one host to another
- Mosquito = vector
- Human = host
- Flea = vector
- Rat, human = host
Why Study Epidemics?
- Because there are so many new and re-emerging infectious diseases
- Because so many epidemics respond to intervention
- Because the rapidity of air travel means no location is isolated
- Because epidemics are likely to be exacerbated by climate change
- Because we can learn things from the past and apply them to new diseases
- Because infectious diseases are important agents of selection (both biological and cultural)
- Because the distribution of infectious diseases is influenced by human activity
- Because infectious diseases are the most important cause of suffering and death in areas most studied by
- Because medical anthropologists must work with biomedicine to provide control programs or health care
- Because we can!
- Focus on disease agent
- Wants to eradicate disease
- Technological interventions
- Treats symptoms (prescriptions)
- Focus on host behaviour, interactions between epidemiologic triad
- Wants to minimize disease
- Technological and behavioural interventions