An infectious disease is defined as an organism or matter that has the potential to spread or affect a population in adverse ways. Infectious diseases have the potential to affect any form of life at any time based on local conditions, living standards, basic hygiene, pasteurization and water treatment. Despite medical breakthroughs and technology, infectious diseases continue to pose an important public health problem. Today, the issue of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases is at the forefront of public health concern.
The very young, older adults, and hospitalized and institutionalized patients are at increased risk for many infectious diseases. Changes in demographics, lifestyle, technology, land use practices, food production and distribution methods, and child care practices, as well as increasing poverty, have a role in emerging infections.
Many infectious diseases are preventable and are controllable. Prevention and control of infectious diseases involve collection of accurate assessment data (such as surveillance data for specific conditions), outbreak detection and investigation, and development of appropriate control strategies (both short and long term) based on specific epidemiologic data. These activities require close collaboration between clinical providers (especially infection-control practitioners within hospitals), clinical laboratories, state and local health departments, and federal agencies.
Furthermore, a need exists for continued education of industry (particularly food producers and food-service industries), healthcare students and providers, along with research to improve immunizations, diagnostic methods, and therapeutic modalities. Thus, the prevention of infectious diseases requires multidisciplinary interventions involving public health professionals, medical practitioners, researchers, community-based organizations, volunteer and private groups, industrial representatives, and educational systems.