Public health microbiology is the branch of microbiology that deals with the monitoring, control and spread of infectious diseases and pathogens from community to community, country to country and around the world. Public health microbiologists (also known as epidemiologists) are disease detectors, and they use their profession to improve the quality of health worldwide through timely detection and prevention of disease outbreak or spread in human populations. They also inspect restaurants, food vendors and food from the factory to make sure they are pathogen free and are not sources of food-borne diseases.
Public health microbiologists are specialists that utilize key health data to forestall and reverse the spread of an epidemic; and they play critical roles in cases of disease outbreak such as in the recent epidemic of the ebola virus disease (EVD) in parts of West Africa and other imported diseases/infections in other countries of the world. Public health microbiologists share timely, reliable and comparable microbiological or epidemiological statistics with other health professionals including doctors and other government public health specialists in order to efficiently prevent and control communicable diseases among defined human populations.
Sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., gonorrhea and syphilis), HIV/AIDS, Ebola virus disease (EVD), lassa fever, tuberculosis (TB), lyme disease, plague, diphtheria, influenza, rabies, hepatitis infection (especially B and C), malaria and food borne illnesses are some of the diseases that are of public health importance and must be reported to the authorities for appropriate containment measures; and the public health microbiologist play critical role in ensuring that vital data regarding infectious diseases are well shared and reported (Figure 1).
Research conducted by public health microbiologists is used for the control and prevention of infectious diseases in the community; and they use a wide variety of laboratory techniques which incorporates a multidisciplinary investigation in identifying and characterizing pathogenic microorganisms that directly affect the well being of the general public. Public health microbiologists work in research institutions, the academia, government laboratories, hospitals and in other government agencies where there knowledge about the spread of microbes within a defined population is harnessed and utilized to contain infectious diseases. They also sensitize the general public on possible ways of preventing the contamination and spread of infectious diseases so as to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Public health microbiologists and/or epidemiologists collect and analyze health-related data in order to detect, monitor, prevent and contain the outbreak of an infectious disease within a defined human population. They assist clinicians and other public health professionals to determine the epidemiology of a disease or an epidemic so that adequate containment measures can be put in place to tract and restrain the spread of the disease within a defined geographical location.
Figure 1: Scientists in a BSL-2 Laboratory.
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