It is important to appreciate that in epidemics we can only protect ourselves, our families and our children in one of two ways.
- Preventing or reducing risks of exposure to the virus that causes the illness.
- Developing immunity against the disease.
We can only develop immunity in one of two ways. We can either be infected, which carries the risk of illness, complications and even death or we can be vaccinated.
The public health measures in any epidemic are aimed at slowing down both the rate of progression and ultimate size of the epidemic.
- The lower the epidemic size (number of people infected) the lower the number of people who will become ill and the lower the total mortality.
- The lower the absolute volume of circulating virus the lower the risk of viral mutation.
- Slowing the evolution of the epidemic buys time in order to:
- develop tests to help us better understand the nature of the infection and the optimal control methods
- develop treatments to optimally manage the illness
- develop a vaccine which is ultimately the most effective method of controlling epidemics of infectious disease.
In addition, the measures above may be expected to reduce other coexisting infectious illnesses (Influenza, common colds etc.). This can boost population immunity which reduces the likelihood of an epidemic taking hold. We have a further article explaining how the public health measures work in more detail here.
Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.