What is epidemiology?

Epidemiology is the study of disease epidemics and those who practice it deal with the incidence and prevalence of disease in populations. Incidence is the number of new cases in a given time period (this varies by condition) and prevalence is the total number of cases. Epidemiologists try to detect and contain outbreaks and epidemics of disease through a number of methods including, but not limited to, active surveillance, passive surveillance, and response activities. 

Detection and management of disease outbreaks require coordination from local agencies and hospitals. In Texas, there are a number of conditions that are mandated by law to be reported to local public health. The list of notifiable conditions can be found on the Texas Department of State Health Services website.

The process for reporting diseases that are mandated by law is to report to your local health department if you have one, and the local health department staff will investigate the report to determine if it is, in fact, necessary to report to the state. See the reporting fax line below in red. 

In addition to monitoring reports of disease as they are submitted epidemiologists also work with preparedness staff to develop plans for the response to public health events such as natural disasters and bioterrorism. 

For more information about Epidemiology click here.

Diseases in Schools and Daycare

Some of the most common offenders in schools and daycare centers for illness are colds, norovirus (otherwise known as the stomach flu), influenza, and a handful of other ailments. One of the most important things to remember for both your children and the other children in the facility is that, if your child is ill, keep them at home. There are some great tips on preventing illness on HealthyChildren.org.

For Schools and Daycare facilities an outbreak of any of these conditions can be a challenge. This is particularly true because it can be difficult to decontaminate all of the surfaces once contaminated. Norovirus can make this particularly challenging. The EPA has a list of cleaners certified to kill norovirus that is available for reference by clicking here.

The CDC also has valuable information for the prevention of Norovirus and Influenza.

A great tool for schools and daycares regarding illness is this chart that covers details about how long to keep a child home based on illness type and illness signs and symptoms and methods of prevention. 

Do not hesitate to contact us at the Bell County Public Health District for any questions or concerns.