How to Control the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases have always been a part of our lives. Polio — highly debilitating and often deadly at its height — represents one end of the infectious disease spectrum. On the other end, the common cold exists as a far less concerning condition.

Regardless, public health professionals are essential in helping prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases among community members. With top-notch knowledge, these professionals can significantly impact the collective health of local, regional, national and global populations through many efforts like marketing, fundraising and awareness campaigns, policy making and more.

Education at the Forefront of Reducing Infectious Disease Spread

When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the U.S., there was a concerted effort to emphasize tactics to prevent its spread. These same tactics have been advised for years in preventing the spread of colds, flu and other infectious diseases. However, it seemed the public took notice as the pandemic raged on. For many, it may have made the difference between life and death.

Public health officials help disseminate health information and educate the public on preventing the spread of illness. They can encourage the following best practices for limiting the spread of various types of disease:

  • Wash your hands with water and soap for at least 15-20 seconds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states this is the No. 1 way to prevent the spread of infections.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs. Use a disposable tissue or the inside of your elbow (known as the “Dracula sneeze”).
  • In the case of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, a face mask is the first line of defense. Experts recommend using either a traditional surgical-grade mask or one classified as N95 rather than cloth masks.
  • Avoid sharing items like cups, water bottles, straws, dishes and utensils.
  • Consider the various vaccinations available to help prevent infectious diseases, including vaccines received during childhood and those available for COVID and influenza. If you’re traveling, there are certain shots and vaccinations for region-specific infections (such as malaria), and you should know the water quality of the area you’re visiting.
  • Practice safe sex and avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Many more tips exist, both from the CDC and Harvard University. Public health official help communities understand all the situations in which infectious diseases can spread so they can take prevention steps.

How Public Health Professionals Can Advocate for a Better Future

Since the pandemic, there has been increased awareness about the various ways people can prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and similar infectious diseases. At the forefront of this effort to educate the public is public health officials. To be more effective and efficient, the U.S. and beyond need professionals who fully understand infectious diseases and their impact.

Public health professionals can help communities prevent infectious diseases and live healthier in a number of ways including:

  • Leading and participating in health clinics for efforts like vaccinations, SDI awareness and more
  • Giving input to programs that monitor and respond to public health concerns among particular groups
  • Work with certain populations and communities to develop effective policy targeted at health promotion
  • Help assess and address public health needs and spread awareness of health programs and services
  • Provide education, management and care to individuals at high health risk

Eastern Washington University’s Master of Public Health (MPH) online program is perfect for those wanting to play a vital role in protecting the health of their communities. This program offers many courses that help in the fight against infectious disease spread.

For example, the Epidemiology course includes an expansive look at epidemiologic practice — including principles, concepts and methods. The Public Health in the Era of Social Media course helps students understand how to use social media for “good” in promoting public knowledge surrounding infectious diseases. This perspective is critical, as so much misinformation circulates via social media platforms.

Thanks to the program’s accelerated nature, students can complete their coursework in as few as 14 months and have the option of seven different start dates each year. As a result, graduates can get on their career path sooner rather than later, looking towards lucrative careers in the public health arena.

Learn more about Eastern Washington University’s online MPH – General program.

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