March 5, 2012
Vulnerable populations are "those with a greater than average risk of developing health problems by virtue of their marginalized socio-cultural status, their limited access to economic resources, or personal characteristics such as age and gender" (De Chesnay & Anderson, 2008). Infants and young children are vulnerable to a host of healthcare problems, they are susceptible to viral infection especially respiratory infection such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus. In this paper, the author will define and describe epidemiological triangle as it relates to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), types of epidemiology, and levels of prevention of RSV. Epidemiology Definition
Epidemiology is defined as "the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to control of health problems" (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008). The study of epidemiology is important because it search for causes or factors that are related with increased risk or likelihood of disease, it deals with group of people rather than with individual person, and it helps public health with decision making and aids in developing and evaluating interventions to control and prevent health problems (CDC, 2012). Epidemiology is used to "monitor the health of various populations, understand the determinants of health and disease in communities, and investigate and evaluate interventions to prevent disease and maintain health" (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008). Epidemiologist treat communities and populations by looking at disease transmission, exposure, possible for spread of disease and ways to avoid the return of disease, just like a physician treats an individual. Epidemiology is considered "the core of science of public health and is described as a constellation of disciplines with a common mission: optimal health for the whole community" (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008). Epidemiological Triangle
Epidemiological triangle can be applied to better understand the transmission of RSV. Epidemiological triangle have three parts: agent or the "what" , is the cause of the disease: host or the "who" is an organism harboring the disease; and environment or the "where" are those factors that cause or allow disease transmission. In RSV transmission, the agent is RSV. RSV is the leading cause of lower respiratory infection in infants and young children (host). Infants who have congenital abnormalities of the airway, neuromuscular disease, congenital heart disease, and infants who were born premature have a higher risk of developing RSV. RSV has been recognized for at least 100 years. The virus start out in the upper respiratory tract in respiratory epithelial cells. The spread of the virus down the respiratory tract happens by call to call transfer along intracytoplasmic bridges (snycytia) from upper respiratory tract to lower respiratory tract (Medscape, 2011). RSV "enters its host through the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes, or nose. Proteins found on the viral surface cause neighboring uninfected cells to fuse with infected cells, spreading viral progeny from cell to cell. The fusion of cell membranes creates syncytia, which initiate the release of inflammatory cells and mucus buildup in the lungs. The incubation period is 4 to 5 days" (Lawrence, P. 2011). Most infants will have this infection by the age of 2. RSV is very contagious, it can be spread through droplets when someone sneezes or coughs with the virus. The virus can also live on surfaces, hands, clothing (environment), and can be spread by touching someone who are contaminated with the virus (KidsHealth, 2012).
Respiratory Syncytial Virus is the most common germ that causes lung and airway infections in infants and young children. RSV spreads rapidly in day care centers and crowded households. The virus can live for half hour...