Infectious Diseases and Public Health

An infectious disease is a body’s pathologically morbid condition caused by a living pathogen. The patient’s organism reacts to a foreign agent protectively. There are two ways out of the infectious status, namely body’s complete liberation from the disease-producing factor and death. It is important to note that full recovery can occur when the organism overcomes and gets rid of the pathogen. The current paper seeks to analyze infectious diseases by defining epidemiology, outbreak, incidence, and prevalence, evaluating the role of nursing, as well as current infectious diseases locally, statewide, and nationally, and their association with Healthy People 2020 objectives, and analyzing evidence-based practices aimed at reducing infections.


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Definitions of Epidemiology, Outbreak, Incidence and Prevalence

The epidemiology of infectious diseases is the examination of determinants, incidents, and prevalence of infections in specific groups. They are the main cause of mortality and morbidity around the world.  Epidemiologists do not only study risk factors and rates, but elaborate and carry out interventions at the community and individual levels. The fundamental goal is to prevent the development of an infection, disability, and even death. Global and domestic efforts are directed towards addressing threats, detecting diseases, emerging and re-emerging infections and their surveillance, as well as developing vaccines and other preventative measures (Bygbjerg, 2012).

An outbreak is a sudden occurrence of a disease. The one of Ebola in Africa two years ago raised the awareness of the global community about the burden of infections (Bygbjerg, 2012). Moreover, individuals have recognized the fact that public health systems have to be prepared to respond to emerging issues adequately. After the Zika virus had been identified as an international emergency, communities were forced to examine its implications because of a close connection between the disease and microcephaly in Brazil (Bygbjerg, 2012). While developed countries have high mortality and morbidity rates of non-communicable diseases, infections remain a major concern nationwide and worldwide.

Incidence is the rate or frequency of a disease, which measures the number of new people affected. An increase in the world population indicates the spread of diseases in both developed and developing countries. Due to medical and technological advancements, the number of outbreaks and epidemics has substantially decreased. However, the population rise will pose a new challenge complicating disease control and an adequate response to drug-resistant bacteria and emerging viruses that can boost the next pandemic. Clinicians seek to produce new cures for pathogens lessening the burden of infectious diseases (Bygbjerg, 2012).

Prevalence means the degree to which a disease is widespread. It measures all people affected. Polio, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and specific tropical infections are a significant problem facing developing countries (Bygbjerg, 2012). Nowadays, non-infectious and infectious diseases pose a double burden for low- and middle-income communities, and the problem will persist if no adequate measures are taken in the nearest future (Bygbjerg, 2012). In the distant past, infections were widely spread in developing countries. Since then, the global pattern has shifted, and infectious diseases have become a fundamental issue for many wealthy and poor states.

The Role of Nursing

Nurses have to understand the specifics of infection transmission and epidemiology. Nursing intervention is based on changing the environment, attacking the agent, and strengthening the host through vaccination. The role of nurses is clear and straightforward. They have to prevent an outbreak of an infection in communities and healthcare settings. In this case, skills and knowledge have to be advanced (Bygbjerg, 2012).

Current Infectious Diseases

In 2013, 9.58 % of Americans suffered from tuberculosis, 50.63% from salmonellosis, 36.31% from Lyme disease, and 0.18% from meningococcal disease. In the same year, almost 47.000 Americans were diagnosed with HIV (Krueger, Dietz, Van Handel, Belcher, & Johnson, 2016). In 2014, there were 44.07% of HIV cases. It has been predicted that one in fifty one Georgians will be diagnosed with HIV. In 2013, syphilis was 10.3 per 100,000 Georgia residents (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Georgia has been ranked the first state considering syphilis rates and the seventh by the prevalence of TB. Despite the fact that Atlanta is well-known for entertainment, philanthropy, politics, and business, the HIV rate is still high, and it has already become a public health emergency issue in the state. Its prevalence in Atlanta is similar to poor African countries. Lyme disease strikes about 300,000 residents of Atlanta annually (“CDC: Lyme Disease Rates,” 2013). Atlanta officials fight against a tuberculosis outbreak in homeless shelters. Two years ago, the disease affected 47 people (Beasley, 2014).

Infectious Diseases and Healthy People 2020

Americans contract diseases, which can be prevented by vaccines. Tuberculosis, influenza, and hepatitis remain the major causes of death and illnesses in the country. Therefore, the government is forced to spend additional money on infection-related consequences. In addition to illnesses, infections can lead to deaths and disabilities. Immunization focuses on prevention through vaccines. Therefore, Healthy People 2020 objectives are to increase immunization rates and decrease the likelihood of developing infectious diseases (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2016).

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Evidence-Based Practices

Public health efforts at the local, national, and state levels include epidemiologic investigation, detection of viruses in laboratories, and disease surveillance (Hankins & de Zalduondo, 2010). These activities will significantly protect individuals from contracting new viruses and save their lives. Disease prevention efforts are directed towards the prevention and control of infections, as well as the reduction of inequalities, disparities, and burden while saving money and time. In order to properly address the HIV infection and other infectious diseases and potential risks, researchers and policymakers develop preventive measures based on structural, biomedical, and behavioral interventions (Hankins & de Zalduondo, 2010). A sound evidence based policy helps to ensure the adequate application of prevention initiatives improving the well-being of vulnerable populations. Moreover, the recent involvement of global partners in public health affairs will also lower the likelihood of outbreaks and the spread of diseases locally, nationally, and within a particular state.


Infectious diseases do not only increase the rates of mortality and morbidity in the USA, but also in the whole world. Diverse microbes evolve, adapt to the changing environment, and affect the most vulnerable populations posing a significant threat to their health and well-being. Low income communities feel the devastating burden of infectious diseases. Despite efforts and actions, human immunodeficiency virus and other pathogens continue to infect American citizens. An advanced policy helps to integrate clinical preventive practices into the entire healthcare system and increase the engagement of all people within communities. As a result, the strengthened global capacity will help to respond to outbreaks in a proper manner.

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