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Epidemiology - What is That?

Epidemiology is the foundation of public health. It is defined as the study of the distribution and causes of diseases or disorders within groups of people and how to prevent and control them. Epidemiological research helps us understand not only who has a disorder or disease but why and how it was brought to this individual or region.

Our Epidemiology team at Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department use the insights gathered in their research to determine how illness within a population affects our community. In turn, they provide recommendations for interventions. 

Listed below are some activities that we participate in to achieve our motto of "Working toward a Healthy Community."

Syndromic Surveillance

Syndromic surveillance provides public health officials with a timely system for detecting, understanding, and monitoring health events. By tracking symptoms of patients in emergency departments—before a diagnosis is confirmed—public health can detect unusual levels of illness to determine whether a response is warranted.

Syndromic data can serve as an early warning system for public health concerns such as flu outbreaks and have been used in responses for opioid overdoses, e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, Zika virus infection, and natural disasters.

We in Jackson-Madison County are conducting syndromic surveillance on a daily basis to help target and prevent any potential cases and follow up with investigations if need be.

FoodNet Program

The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) has been tracking trends for infections transmitted commonly through food since 1996

FoodNet provides a foundation for food safety policy and prevention efforts. It estimates the number of foodborne illnesses, monitors trends in specific foodborne illnesses over time, attributes illnesses to specific foods and settings, and reports this information.