Eradication of smallpox, polio, and covid-19 | NURS 8310 – Epidemiology and Population Health | Walden University

 Some of the most notable epidemics include the bubonic plague in the 14th century, smallpox in the 18th century, influenza in the 20th century, and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in the 21st century. It is estimated that the bubonic plague caused 25 million deaths in Europe in the 14th century alone, and up to 200 million total deaths across centuries (Glatter & Finkelman, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic spread at an unprecedented pace due to globalization and the mobility of society, killing millions worldwide. These are dramatic examples of the kinds of acute outbreaks that make epidemiology such an important field of study. 

 At the beginning of the 21st century, many epidemiologists and healthcare professionals were concerned about the next potential pandemic or epidemic—and then it arrived in early 2020. Globalization means that when these infectious outbreaks occur, they can spread quickly, but we also have more knowledge and better tools (e.g., vaccine technology) to fight them. For this Discussion, you will compare lessons learned from two successful eradication efforts, that of smallpox and polio, and consider how they may be applied to COVID-19. 


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  • Review the Learning Resources, focusing on the smallpox and polio epidemics and how health organizations applied principles of epidemiology to eradicate (or in the case of polio, nearly eradicate) these diseases.
  • In light of these examples, consider the benefits of addressing smallpox and polio at the population level. What were the population health strategies that were used in the efforts to eradicate smallpox and polio?
  • Consider similarities and differences from an epidemiologic perspective among the smallpox and polio epidemics and that of COVID-19.
  • Think about how principles of epidemiology are being applied—or could be applied—to address COVID-19.
  • What lessons from the use of infectious disease epidemiology in the past might be applicable to controlling COVID 19?
  • What are the benefits of addressing this issue at the population level as opposed to the individual level?
By Day 3 of Week 9

Post a cohesive response that addresses the following:

  • Briefly summarize the epidemiologic differences among the three diseases and how principles of epidemiology are being applied—or could be applied—to address COVID-19.
  • Are there any lessons learned from the use of epidemiology in the eradication of smallpox and polio that could be applied to COVID-19?
  • Evaluate the benefits of addressing this health problem at the population level versus the individual level. Support your Discussion with information from this week’s Learning Resources and articles you have located in the Walden Library.
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