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By Thomas C. Timmreck

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The epidemiology triangle is used to analyze the role and interrelatedness of each of the four factors in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, that is, the influence, reactivity, and effect each factor has on the other three. To understand the triangle of epidemiology one must have an understanding of the terms used in the triangle. The agent is the cause of the disease. Bacteria, virus, parasite, fungus, or mold are various agents found in the cause of infectious diseases. In other disease, conditions, disability, injury, or death situations, the agent may be a chemical such as a solvent, a physical factor such as radiation or heat, a nutritional deficiency, or some other substance, such as rattlesnake poison.

3. Look at risks of individuals as they affect groups or populations What are the risk factors, problems, behaviors that affect groups? , health risk, appraisal, health screening, medical exams, disease assessments, etc. 4. Assessment, evaluation, and research How well do public health and health services meet the problems and needs of the population or group? Effectiveness; efficiency; quality; quantity; access; availability of services to treat, control, or prevent disease; injury; disability; or death are studied.

All diseases or conditions cannot always be attributed to a single cause or factor. When more than a single cause must be present for a disease to occur, this is called multiple causation. A single bacterium living in isolation is not sufficient to cause an outbreak of a disease and cannot by itself be responsible for the outbreak nor be labeled as the cause. The mode of transmission has to be considered, the level of sanitation within the community, the ability of the organism to grow and propagate, an environment or medium conducive to propagation, the communicability of the organism, the level of immunity within the population, the density of the population or the proximity of the cases to one another also contribute to the level or intensity of an outbreak.

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