Diseases can become prevalent in different communities at varying times. Due to the close interaction among people at schools, nursing homes, and many other areas, it is easy to imagine that there will be spikes in disease trends overtime. Health officials become concerned when they notice that a population starts contracting a particular disease at a sharp rate. Two functions that public health officials employ when tracking diseases are surveillance and epidemiology. Surveillance involves detecting diseases that may suddenly start to have more prevalence in a community. Epidemiology also helps officials recognize emergency health problems. This is a form of science in which medical professionals notice the spreading of disease and inform the public of proper prevention methods to avoid contracting it. However, this is not a job for just one group of officials.
Local health officials, such as doctors, are the first to notice and report a rise in a disease. For example, if a doctor diagnoses a patient with bacterial meningitis, they immediately warn the people in the surrounding area to be alert of its spreading. Next, state officials gather data on a disease in order to monitor its spreading and check if other populations are effected. Data surveillance is extremely important to tracking diseases. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is the main cooperation through which diseases are monitored and tracked. Local and state officials share the information that they gather to discover what is causing a disease spike and how to best prevent its spreading. In the case of an emergency, it’s important that information is shared quickly and efficiently.
There are nearly one hundred infectious diseases that are reported to the CDC annually. Most of these diseases are categorized as notifiable diseases. This category involves regular surveillance for individual cases in order to better prevent and control it. For instance, if a case of measles is detected within an individual, it must be monitored and people are urged to receive vaccinations to eradicate the disease entirely. By taking certain preventative measures, health officials aim to prevent major disease rises and to further protect communities.