An Epidemiological Odyssey: The Evolution of Communicable Disease Control

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In fact, it is this moment, this phone call with my brother so many years ago that is the driving force behind this essay. In fact, current research suggests that some non-communicable diseases are partly or even wholly communicable , spread through social networks, cultural conditions, and intergenerational transmission. Grounded in the everyday minutia of a dementia caregiver, it tells of loss, pain, and attention. He locates his world within hers, within the navigation of silverware and amplification of his desperation, he too inhabits a space touched by the disease.

It, in fact, does the opposite, creating networks of overlapping effects—social, emotional, physiological, and somatic.

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Perhaps one of the better demonstrations of the spillover effects of these intertwining illnesses is in the cognitive and psychological effects of caregiving. In the literature of spillover, this is one of the more problematic health risks for not only the caregiver but also for the care receiver.

One of the more insidious problems for caregivers comes via a feedback loop whereby the effects of dementia are reflected and amplified back and forth from the dementia care patient to the caregiver.

The third is a category of injuries. The issue here, is one of framing. Beyond linguistic semantics, they also argue that the medicalized distinctions themselves need rethinking. This well-entrenched medical binary between communicable and non-communicable is a distinction that, in light of modern medical anthropological discussions, might be very tenuous.


  • The Evolution of Communicable Disease Control.
  • Some Are Thrown Away?
  • Reward Yourself.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • An Epidemiological Odyssey: The Evolution of Communicable Disease Control.

The shift away from framing obesity as a failure of individual willpower is an important shift in medical anthropology. Research into obesogenic environments and the impact of socioeconomic status upon obesity is important in this discussion as it relates to non-communicable diseases, including AD, because although this research by no means shows that this is a communicable disease in the traditional sense of disease vectors, it does complicate this boundary between communicable and non-communicable by showing that obesity is not just an individual problem, but an interconnected and interlocking web of both individual and social factors.

Further refuting the idea of obesity as an individualized disease, researchers have linked the spread of obesity through social networks.

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Infectious and parasitic diseases

One study considered the extent to which weight gain in one person was associated with weight gain in friends, siblings, and spouses. These are just a few examples of the avenues in which current obesity research is finding ways to contextualize obesity and extend the etiology to social, political, and interpersonal spaces. Much of the strength of their article lies in its willingness to push against these seemingly ingrained medicalized distinctions such as communicable vs. Increasingly, however, the vocabulary of caregiving literature is beginning to push against the individuality. I want to suggest that the language of infection has use, but the binary might not.

This discussion is more than just semantics. Given the burden of caregiving and the ways in which the disease infiltrates the social connections networks surrounding the person with the diseased brain, the categorizations of non-communicability fall short. And the failure of the framework is not just a minor issue of semantics, because the framework itself is failing to account for the literature showing that to be a caregiver is to also to be at risk. Stanley Ulijaszek uses images of water and fluidity as a guiding visualization articulating the complexities of obesity.

Again, it seems subtle, but in treating this disease as a dyad, there is some recognition of the interactional nature of this complex issue.


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  6. The arc of this research is rooted in leaky boundaries and invocations of complexity—but that is the point. Allen, L. A call to reframe non-communicable diseases. The Lancet Global Health , 5 2 , pp.

    Communicable Diseases / संचारी रोग

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