Prevention Strategies of Communicable Diseases

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Prevention Strategies of Communicable diseases
Methods of Control
Communicable diseases occur only when the causative agent comes into contact with a susceptible host in a suitable environment. Prevention and control efforts for communicable diseases may be directed to any of these three elements. Communicable diseases affect both individuals and communities, so control efforts may be directed at both. Treatment of persons with communicable diseases with antibiotics typically kills the agent and renders them noninfectious. Thus, treatment is also prevention. A simple way to prevent the occurrence of communicable diseases is to eliminate the infectious agent through, for example, cooking food, washing hands, and sterilizing surgical instruments between use. Assuring the safety of drinking water through filtration and chlorination and treating sewage appropriately are other important means of preventing the spread of communicable diseases. For most communicable diseases there is an interval between infection and occurrence of symptoms (the incubation period) in which the infectious agent is multiplying or developing. Some persons who are infected may never develop manifestations of the disease even though they may be capable of transmitting it (inapparent infection). Some persons may carry (and transmit) the agent over prolonged periods (carriers) whether or not they develop symptoms. Treatment during the incubation period may cure the infection, thereby preventing both disease and transmission. This preventive treatment (chemoprophylaxis) is often used in persons who have been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea. It also is effective in persons who have been infected with tuberculosis, although the preventive treatment must be given for several months. The susceptibility of the host to a specific infectious agent can be altered through immunization (e.g., against measles) or through taking medications that can prevent establishment of infection following exposure (chemoprophylaxis). Since malnutrition and specific vitamin deficiencies (such as vitamin A) may increase susceptibility to infection, ensuring proper nutrition and administering vitamin A can be more general ways of increasing host resistance. If persons survive a communicable disease, he or she may develop immunity that will prevent the disease from recurring if re-exposed to the causative agent. The environment may be rendered less suitable for the occurrence of disease in a variety of ways. For example, food can be kept hot or cold (rather than warm) to prevent multiplication of organisms that may be present. Individuals can use mosquito repellents or mosquito nets to prevent being bitten by infected mosquitoes. Breeding places can be drained or insecticides used to eliminate vectors of disease. Condoms can be used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases by providing a mechanical barrier to transmission. Reduction of crowding and appropriate ventilation can reduce the likelihood of droplet or airborne transmission. Respiratory protective devices can be used to prevent passage of microorganisms into the respiratory tract. The sociocultural environment is also important in affecting the occurrence of communicable diseases. For example, in the 1980s there was a change in the social norms in men who have sex with other men on the West Coast of the United States, where unprotected anal intercourse had been the norm and was responsible for considerable transmission of HIV. As a result of a variety of educational and social marketing approaches, the social norm changed to the use of condoms and the rate of new HIV infections (and of rectal gonorrhea) declined. Similarly, aggressive social marketing of condom use in Uganda has led to a change in sexual practices and a decline in new HIV infection rates. Other societal approaches to control of communicable diseases include safe water and food laws, provision of free immunization and...
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