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ANTC68H3 (58)
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Lecture 1 Definitions - 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 period - 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 anthropologists - Because medical anthropologists must work with biomedicine to provide control programs or health care delivery - Because we can! Approaches: Biomedical - Focus on disease agent - Wants to eradicate disease - Reductionistic - Technological interventions - Treats symptoms (prescriptions) Approaches: Anthropological - Focus on host behaviour, interactions between epidemiologic triad - Wants to minimize disease - Holistic - Technological and behavioural interventions
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