Covid-19 | Epidemiologist
It’s all about the droplets
This pandemic has revealed a lot about the people we rely on. It’s been surprising to find that most of the lowest paid people perform essential work.
- The high school kid working at the take out.
- The immigrant who works in our food industry.
- The truck drivers who keep everything moving.
- The care aids in seniors homes.
Another critical profession that usually flies under the radar is epidemiology.
Epidemiology is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:
“the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.”
Dr. John Snow and Germ Theory
Dr. John Snow drafted the principles of modern epidemiology in 1854, using a combination of forensic investigation and a theory that germs were responsible for certain diseases.
He lived in London where a cholera outbreak killed more than 500 people in two weeks. After investigating 60 deaths he found it. There was a contaminated water pump that was the common factor in the infections.
It was a medical breakthrough. Before that, doctors believed diseases such as cholera and bubonic plague were caused by pollution or particularly bad air.
In the end, he managed to get the handle to the pump removed and that stopped new infections from that source.
Right now, our epidemiologists are in the spotlight.
In the past, they worked below the radar; now their opinions are actively sought out and they are valued for their expertise.
Dr. William Miller, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University recently explained the risk factors of this virus:
“We can think of transmission risk with a simple phrase: time, space, people, and place”.
The risk has 4 dimensions.
- the amount of time you spent with people outside of your core group increases your risk of infection. Your risk especially increases if you spend a lot of time with others who are laughing or singing.
- Allowing a distance of six feet between people at all times is important in reducing risk. The closer you are in space with others, the higher the risk.
- Be comfortable with the people you chose to include in your bubble. If they aren’t following distancing rules, don’t include them. As the number of people increases, so does your risk.
- Outdoors is definitely a better choice than indoors, especially if you are meeting in close quarters. The virus spreads in droplets and an outdoor setting is ideal for dissipating them. Limit the time you spend with someone, even in the outdoors.
- If you must meet indoors, avoid touching hard surfaces and wash your hands frequently. Don’t share food or toys and open windows to dilute any droplets in the air.
In short, the risk of infection is greatest when you breathe in someone else’s breath.
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