Epidemiology: Tracking and Mitigating Disease
With the novel coronavirus sweeping across continents, epidemiologists are racing to trace and understand the virus. That’s why the field of epidemiology has found itself in the spotlight during the global COVID-19 pandemic. But epidemiologists work every day to confront a variety of health and safety threats, from influenza to Salmonella infection outbreaks.
What is epidemiology?
“Epidemiology is the study of the origin and causes of diseases in a community,” explains the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC).1 Epidemiological surveillance strategies help local health officials, healthcare providers, laboratory scientists, and statisticians “get to the root of health problems and outbreaks in a community.”1
Over the years, the field of epidemiology has expanded to include non-infectious-disease health conditions like depression and obesity. Epidemiological surveillance helps track the incidence (the number of new cases over a period of time) and the prevalence (the number of existing cases) of diseases or disorders in a community.