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Clinical Epidemiology and Decision Making Case Study

1. Formulate a plan on how you would use clinical epidemiology to guide your opinions and actions on dealing with this issue.

Clinical epidemiology refers to the study of disease and other elements or pathogens that may cause such diseases. In addition, it entails the mechanisms and procedural ways of curbing such diseases and infections, including preventive and curative measures (Prezant, 2008). Since diseases are a natural part of human life, it is virtually impossible to eradicate them completely. However, it remains a viable possibility to reduce their spread, combat their effects and eradicate them in the event of an attack. The means and ways of cutting down their spread and reducing their effects largely depend on a number of factors, including the mode of transmission, the effects on the body system and the speed at which it spreads.

In the case study provided, the spread of diseases was through contaminated water. Thus, the diseases and infections were probably due to the unsafe drinking water. Since clinical epidemiology deals with not only the treatment of the disease but also in the methods of spread, knowledge in the field would come in handy in helping stop the spread of the disease and administer effective treatment to the already infected. On getting information about the contamination of water, the first step would be to advise against the consumption of such impure water. That would be followed by conducting a thorough and in-depth analysis of the infected water. The analysis would tell if the water can be treated and labeled safe to drink or if the medical advisory would remain in effect for longer. Laboratory tests would show the pathogens present in the water and their numbers. This becomes important in devising strategies for treatment since medication cannot be administered unless the pathogenic substances are known and well understood. What would follow is the examination of the effects of the pathogenic organisms identified so as to know the symptoms of persons suffering from the disease (Katz, 2001).

The disease may be found to be contagious. In such circumstances, quarantine can be implemented. This would mean that the infected persons would be secluded from the rest of the population as they are accorded treatment. The patterns of spread of the disease may also be identified, a factor that may greatly contribute to the fight against the disease (Sackett, 1991). For instance, it may be discovered that children are more susceptible to the disease than adults, predisposing them to infection and subsequent suffering. In that case, it would be prudent to advice on the actions taken with regard to children. Guardians and parents could be asked to ensure the children under their care maintain high levels of hygiene and desist from coming in contact with the infected water.

2. Propose three types of molds that could develop from flood damage and the associated health risks with each type of mold.

The resultant effects of floods could be more far reaching than thought. Its effects are not just limited to destruction of property. Spread and contraction of diseases also beckons. In this case, the most notorious pathogens that cause diseases are molds. Most of these organisms require moisture for survival, thus their association with floods. One of these is the Aspergillus mold. It appears as white spots sprouting in and around the house. The Aspergillus mold is linked with a number of health problems, most notably difficulty in breathing. It leads to the development of respiratory problems, paving way for other opportunistic infections to set in. As if that is not enough, it causes a headache, chest pains and general body fatigue. The latter is likely due to the energy expended during labored breath (Sackett, 1991).

Another member of the mold family whose appearance is associated with water is the Acremonium mold. Slimy on the surface, this mold thrives in wet, warm and soft areas. For this reason, it could very well colonize the house. Its symptoms are similar to those of Aspergillus. It causes headache and infections to the upper respiratory tract (Goldstein, 2011).

The third type of mold that could find its way on the scene due to the floods is the Cladosporium mold. This is often found in dark and warm places. It is not uncommon to find it in the corners of the house and even in appliances such as refrigerators. It leads to an array of health problems. It's most commonly exhibited symptoms are fatigue, watery eyes, skin irritation, coughing and even a sore throat. In addition, when an individual is further exposed to the Cladosporium mold, he or she is likely to develop more serious symptoms such as nose bleeding and pain in the joints (Goldstein, 2011).

3. Outline a plan to communicate key information to health practitioners who will most likely treat the symptoms of mold.

The health practitioners posted to the affected area need to keep in mind that symptom of mold infection are similar to those of allergies. They, therefore, need to pay utmost attention to cases that are in line with allergies, such as watery eyes and sore throats. In addition, they need to inform their patients on the effects of recurrent exposure to the molds. It has been indicated that the continuous exposure to molds may aggravate the problem and further lead to other opportunistic infections to set in (Prezant, 2008). In this regard, already infected individuals can be asked to maintain a high level of hygiene, both personal and general. The house should be kept free of any growths that bear the appearance of a mold. The medical practitioners also need to bear in mind that the effects of molds could be immediate or they could be exhibited after some time (delayed).

4. Compare three methods that could be used to decrease mold or exposure to mold.

Exposure to mold can be decreased by maintaining high hygienic standards. This applies for both personal and general hygiene. The advantage of this is that it acts as a preventive measure and allows for easier control of the mold. The disadvantage, however, is that despite maintenance of high levels of hygiene, it is not a guarantee that one is free from the effects of mold (Katz, 2001). The other method used to curb the spread of mold is use of drugs. This is reliable as the guarantee that the molds will die after being sprayed are upheld. However, this method has a disadvantage of its own. The drugs may have harmful effects on human health, making a bad situation even worse. The mold could also be resistant to the drug, rendering the effects of the drug null and void. The third method that could be used to inhibit the spread of mold and the resultant infections is through the alienation of the infected individuals, a process called quarantine. The advantage of this is that it provides the guarantee of no further infection, especially after the infected individuals have been separated from the rest. However, this may be torturous to the patients and few would find it easy coping with such circumstances.

5. Formulate three talking points the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection can use when addressing the concerns of the community on health risks associated with mold.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should underscore the importance of hygiene as concerns mold and its spread. It also needs to remind the locals of being on the lookout and cooperating with health officials to identify the infected and accord them necessary medication. In addition, the Department needs to create awareness through enlightening the masses. This gives the locals an idea of what to expect when infected, the steps to take after infection and most importantly how to avert an infection (Sackett, 1991).

6. Suggest the type of study you would use to evaluate the long term effects of mold exposure and the reasoning behind your selection.

In this context, epidemiological research studies are bound to provide a lot of useful information regarding the pathogenic organisms and the spread of the disease (Goldstein, 2011). Epidemiological research would, therefore, be the choice of study method to explore the effects of the molds. It gives a comprehensive account of the diseases, the spread and the possible measures that can be taken to avert further spread.