WHAT IS EPIDEMIOLOGY?
Epidemiology is the area of medical science that studies and researches how often diseases occur in different groups of people and reasons behind it. It focuses on study and analysis of pattern, cause and effect of health and disease conditions in a limited area consisting of a defined population.
The study involves the investigation of root cause of the disease, the medium of its transmission, reasons for its outbreak and the various treatments for disease control. The study of epidemiology is done by observation and experiment of medicine on a particular disease, and is often referred to as modern public health research.
WHO ARE EPIDEMIOLOGISTS?
People who perform Epidemiology are called Epidemiologists or Epidemiological Scientists or Professor. The job of epidemiologist’s job is all about solving medical mysteries. But instead of figuring out “who did it”, they figure out “what causes it.” They find relationship between a medical condition and other factors that might cause it.
These factors include human behavior, hereditary genes, environmental toxins, medical treatments, other ongoing diseases and geographical location. An Epidemiologist can analyze what types of diets are most effective in preventing a particular disease and analyze data to determine what factors influence the development of a disease.
WHY DO WE NEED EPIDEMIOLOGY?
Epidemiology has evolved as a great disease prevention program and has resulted in controlling outbreak of diseases.
In February 2009, when two fatal cases of meningitis occurred at an army training centre named, Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri Ozarks, it was time for disease detectives to get to work. The investigation identified the cause of the outbreak and lead to interventions to prevent further cases of the disease.
In the era when disease and their outbreak are major threat to society, it plays an important role in the monitoring trends in the occurrence of specific disease over time and identifying emergent threats in timely fashion.
APPLICATIONS OF EPIDEMIOLOGY
Depending on how frequently a disease occurs, one can set patterns of occurrence and the disease can be put under surveillance. Criteria for observational studies depend on existing knowledge of various diseases. This knowledge gets refined over time as the symptoms and causes get linked. Patients can be identified using a physician’s knowledge or through laboratory reporting.
Epidemiology is today the Cinderella of the medical science; public health needs more epidemiology, and so does medicine as a whole.