According to the World Health Orgnization, an emerging infectious disease (EID) is an infectious disease that has appeared in a population for the first time, or that may have existed previously but is rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range (WHO). Outbreaks are the occurrence of disease cases in excess of what would normally be expected for a community, geographical area or season (WHO). Examples of recent outbreaks affecting public health in United States include Group A Streptococcus, Pertussis, Zika, Mumps, and Measles.
- Discuss the principles related to the occurrence and transmission of communicable and infectious diseases.
- Describe the three focus areas in Healthy People 2020 and the objectives that apply to communicable and infectious diseases.
- Identify and discuss nursing activities for the control of infectious diseases at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of prevention.
- Identify and discuss a communicable and/or infectious disease that it was believed to be eradicated and have reemerged now. For example; measles.
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In this content, we will discuss various aspects related to communicable and infectious diseases. We will explore the principles of occurrence and transmission of these diseases, as well as the focus areas and objectives in Healthy People 2020 that apply to them. Additionally, we will identify nursing activities for the control of infectious diseases at different levels of prevention. Finally, we will highlight a communicable or infectious disease that was believed to be eradicated but has reemerged in recent times.
1. Principles related to the occurrence and transmission of communicable and infectious diseases:
Communicable and infectious diseases are caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These diseases can be transmitted from infected individuals or contaminated sources to susceptible hosts. Several principles govern the occurrence and transmission of these diseases. These include:
a) Causative agents: Different pathogens have diverse characteristics and can cause various diseases. Understanding the causative agent helps in determining appropriate prevention and treatment strategies.
b) Reservoirs of infection: Reservoirs are natural habitats where pathogens survive and multiply. Humans, animals, and environments can act as reservoirs. Identifying and controlling reservoirs helps in reducing the transmission of diseases.
c) Modes of transmission: Disease transmission occurs through direct contact, indirect contact, airborne droplets, vector-borne transmission, or through contaminated food and water. Understanding the modes of transmission is critical in implementing effective preventive measures.
d) Susceptible hosts: Individuals who are vulnerable to infection due to factors such as weakened immune systems or lack of previous exposure to the pathogen are considered susceptible hosts. Knowledge of the susceptible population allows targeted interventions.
e) Prevention and control: Preventive measures can be implemented at different levels, including primary prevention (preventing the disease from occurring), secondary prevention (early detection and treatment), and tertiary prevention (minimizing the impact and complications of the disease).
2. Three focus areas in Healthy People 2020 and their objectives related to communicable and infectious diseases:
Healthy People 2020 is a comprehensive initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aimed at improving the nation’s health. It includes three focus areas relevant to communicable and infectious diseases:
a) Immunization and Infectious Diseases: The objective is to increase immunization rates and reduce the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. This includes promoting immunizations across the lifespan, improving vaccine coverage, and enhancing surveillance for infectious diseases.
b) Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): The objective is to reduce the transmission of STIs and their associated complications. This involves increasing public awareness, promoting safe sexual practices, expanding access to STI testing and treatment, and supporting research in prevention and control.
c) Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs): The objective is to prevent healthcare-associated infections and their associated harms. This includes improving infection control practices in healthcare settings, promoting appropriate use of antibiotics, and enhancing surveillance and reporting of HAIs.
3. Nursing activities for the control of infectious diseases at different levels of prevention:
Nurses play a crucial role in controlling infectious diseases. At the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of prevention, nursing activities include:
a) Primary prevention: Nurses educate individuals and communities about infection prevention practices, promote vaccination, and implement measures to control the transmission of diseases. They provide information on hand hygiene, proper food handling, safe sexual practices, and respiratory etiquette.
b) Secondary prevention: Nurses conduct screenings and early detection of infectious diseases, ensuring prompt diagnosis and treatment. They facilitate contact tracing and implement isolation precautions to prevent the spread of infections. Nurses also educate individuals about the importance of seeking timely healthcare for suspected infections.
c) Tertiary prevention: Nurses play a vital role in supporting individuals with infectious diseases to optimize their health outcomes. They provide comprehensive care, manage complications, and promote adherence to treatment plans. Nurses also educate patients on self-care practices to prevent further transmission or recurrence of the disease.
4. Communicable and/or infectious disease that has reemerged:
One example of a communicable and infectious disease that was believed to be eradicated but has reemerged is tuberculosis (TB). TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other organs. With the advent of antibiotics, it was thought that TB would be eliminated. However, factors such as the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains, increased global travel, and population movements have contributed to the reemergence of TB. Additional challenges include inadequate healthcare access, poverty, and immunosuppression due to conditions like HIV/AIDS. Efforts are underway to strengthen surveillance, improve diagnosis and treatment, and enhance preventive measures to control the spread of TB.
In conclusion, understanding the principles of occurrence and transmission of communicable and infectious diseases, aligning with the objectives of Healthy People 2020, implementing nursing activities for prevention and control, and recognizing reemerging diseases are essential in effectively addressing the challenges posed by these diseases. Collaboration among healthcare professionals, public health agencies, and communities is crucial to minimize the impact of infectious diseases on individuals and populations.