Infection rates and exposure risk will vary based on the disease, sanitation habits of individuals and personal choices. Large population concentrations and sites with large numbers of people are especially at risk in the event of an outbreak.

Effects on People

Benton County’s entire population is susceptible to exposure from an infectious disease because of the random nature of diseases. However, the risk is considered very low throughout the county because of good prevention programs and quality health care. Certain groups of people such as the elderly, the very young, and hospitalized or institutionalized people are at greater risk than the general public. Even for these people the risk is considered low to very low. The greatest risk would be in cities, where population density is the highest.

Health care providers, teachers and other public service providers such as police, fire and emergency response personnel also could be affected. Although the risk might be no greater for these groups of people, the impact on the community would be much greater.


An infectious disease outbreak, especially one that occurred over an extended period of time, could have drastic economic consequences for the region. An infectious disease outbreak may cause wide spread absenteeism throughout the public sector, indirectly affecting infrastructure. An infectious disease outbreak might affect such highly specialized health and non-health sector workers in the police, fire, public works, emergency response, utility, transportation workers. Schools could be closed if a large number of teachers or students were infected.

The risks associated with an outbreak of infectious disease is tremendous, particularly given the mobility of the population of the United States, and the world. What could start as a small epidemic could easily become a tremendous problem and spiral even into a worldwide pandemic. Livestock populations also are at risk to certain infectious diseases like mad cow and hoof and mouth diseases.