Concepts of Prevention & Control of Disease




Concepts of Prevention & Control of Disease

General Principles of
Prevention and control of
communicable diseases


Dr. Vijay B. Lambole
Asso. Professor,
Dept. of Pharmacology

2/20/2021 1

By the end of this lecture you will be able to:
o Identify measures for prevention and control of
communicable diseases
• Measures towards reservoir
• Measures towards the MOT /environment
• Measures to contacts and susceptible host
o Identify the levels of prevention of diseases

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Actions aimed at eradicating, eliminating, or minimizing
the impact of disease and disability, or if none of these is
feasible, retarding the progress of disease and disability.

The concept of prevention is best defined in the context of
levels of prevention; primary, secondary, and tertiary
(Oxford Dictionary 2008)


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Control & Elimination of disease

CONTROL: Disease incidence is reduced to a minimal level,
acceptable at the level of country/region, at which the
disease is no longer considered a public health
problem, while infection may still occur.

ELIMINATION: Reduction to zero of the incidence of a
specified disease in a defined community or country or
region as a result public health actions.

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It means worldwide disappearance of a disease i.e.
(permanent reduction to zero level) :

➢The organism may be present only in laboratories,
but there is no need for public health actions. e.g.
smallpox since 1979.


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The cycle of infection has three major links:
• Reservoir& source
• Mode of transmission
• Susceptible Host
In general, control measures should be directed
towards the link in the infection chain is most
susceptible to interference.

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-Surveillance/quarantine -Isolation of cases
-Chemoprophylaxis -Treatment
-Sero-prophylaxis -Disinfection
-Vaccination -Control of carriers
-Control of animals


Mode of -Prevention of overcrowding
transmission -Personal hygiene
-Vector control
-Environmental sanitation
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Measures towards Reservoir
Objective of control measures towards reservoir
• Reduce quantity of agent (complete or partial reduction)
• Reduce communicability

Measures towards cases
Measures towards carriers
Measures towards animal reservoir


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Measures towards cases
• Case finding (early detection/screening)
• Reporting
• Segregation /isolation of cases
• Treatment of cases
• Disinfection


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Measures towards cases
Segregation/Isolation of cases
This means that the patient is isolated from the community
in a fashion that prevents direct or indirect spread of
infectious agents.
• Isolation is usually done for a period which equals the
“period of communicability” at a hospital (fever hospital)
or at home. Ideally repeated negative sample are
needed before his release.
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Measures towards cases
Treatment of cases
• Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of
infections with appropriate regimens (e.g.
antibiotics, antiviral or other chemotherapeutic
agents) helps reducing communicability.


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Measures towards cases
Disinfection of the soiled articles by the patient
discharges or excreta concurrently (during his
presence as source of infection) and/or terminally
(after his discharge from the hospital or death) helps
in reduction of communicability.
Disinfection of contaminated objects with appropriate
“enteric precautions,” “respiratory precautions,”
“universal precautions”
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Measures applied to carriers
1. Detection of carriers:
– If they represent important reservoir of infection.
– If they were suspected in a closed community, such as
boarding schools, army barracks, food handling
2. Exclusion from work: in certain occupations for example;
– food handler (e.g. Typhoid carrier) or a
– teacher (e.g. Diphtheria carrier).
3. Treatment for the carrier state (when applicable).

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Measures applied to animal reservoir
• Inspection and slaughtering of infected animals (in
bovine tuberculosis)
• Testing and immunization of uninfected sheep, cattle (in
• Careful husbandry and sterilization of animal products (in
• Extinction/Destruction of animal reservoir has been
successful with diseases as rabies and bovine TB in
several countries. Such procedure is only possible for
domestic animals while it is difficult or almost impossible
for wild animals (e.g. in jungle yellow fever,….)

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Measures to Contacts/ susceptible Host

• Surveillance/observation
• Quarantine
• Increasing resistance of susceptibles


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Measures to Contacts/ susceptible Host

• Surveillance means close medical supervision of the
contacts, without restricting their movement, for the
purpose of early detection of the disease in question.

• Surveillance should be done for duration of the
longest “incubation period” of the disease counted
from date of last exposure.


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• Quarantine means separation (with restriction of the
movement) in a specific place (quarantine) of apparently
well persons or animals who have been exposed
(contact) to a case of infectious disease.

• Quarantine is done for the duration of the longest
“incubation period” of the disease counted from date of
last exposure. It allows early detection of the disease
among these individuals.
• This measure is applied for contacts of pneumonic plague
and pneumonic anthrax.
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Increasing resistance of susceptibles

Measures to improve the defense mechanism of
the host by using:
• Chemoprophylaxis,
• Sero-prophylaxis,
• Immunization.


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Increasing resistance of susceptibles

a) Chemoprophylaxis: The administration of a chemical,
including antimicrobials, to prevent the development
of an infection (if given before exposure)
or to slow progression of the disease to active clinically
manifest disease (if given after exposure).


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Increasing resistance of susceptibles

Chemoprophylaxis is used for travelers to endemic areas,
occupationally exposed persons (e.g. Health Care
Workers) and for contacts in closed communities as in
camps, schools and institutions.
1. Isoniazid (INH) for contacts of tuberculous cases.
2. Rifampicin for contacts of meningeococcal meningitis.
3. Chloroquine for travelers to malaria areas.
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Increasing resistance of susceptibles
b) Sero-prophylaxis: prophylaxis using ready-made
antibodies also known as passive immunization
(e.g. measles immunoglobulin and tetanus anti tetanic
serum (ATS)

In case of measles, if it is given within the first three days
of the incubation period, it prevents the attack and
gives immunity for 4-5 weeks.
If administered from the 4th to the 10th day of IP, the
subject gets a modified attack and permanent

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Increasing resistance of susceptibles

c) Vaccination (Active immunization):
Protection of susceptible host from communicable
diseases by the administration of a modified living
infectious agent, killed organism, or inactive agent or
part of the agent.


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Measures towards the environment

• Reduction of overcrowding (better housing conditions,
proper ventilation)
• Personal hygiene (cleanliness, hand washing, regular
•Environmental sanitation: (e.g. sanitary sewage disposal,
sanitary refuse disposal, safe water supply,…)


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Measures towards the environment

•Vector control (insecticides, indoor or aerial spraying,
•National and international measures: which include
different public health measures undertaken within and
between countries in order to protect the individuals and
communities from communicable diseases.


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-Surveillance/quarantine -Isolation of cases
-Chemoprophylaxis -Treatment
-Sero-prophylaxis -Disinfection
-Vaccination -Control of carriers
-Control of animals


Mode of -Prevention of overcrowding
transmission -Personal hygiene
-Vector control
-Environmental sanitation
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Choice of appropriate prevention &
control measures
The choice of the control measure is disease dependent.
It depends upon the knowledge of:
• Natural history, causation and dynamics of disease
• identification of risk factors and high risk groups
• availability of tools of intervention (vaccine
chemoprophylaxis or treatment,..)

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Levels of Prevention
• Primary prevention => pre-event phase
• Secondary prevention => event phase
• Tertiary prevention => post-event phase

Health Promotion (1ry prevention)
Early detection & care (2ry prevention)
Rehabilitation (3ry prevention)


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Natural History of Disease
Detectable subclinical disease


Susceptible Subclinical Clinical Outcome:
Host Disease
Stage of Recovery,
Diagnosis Disability, or Death
Point of sought

Primary Onset of Prevention
Prevention Secondary symptoms
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I- Primary Prevention:

Actions taken prior to the onset of the disease
which aim to remove the possibility that a disease
will ever occur”

It limits the incidence of diseases by preventing
healthy people from developing disease.

Primary Prevention activities can be directed at
individuals or at the environment.

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At individual level
Measures to improve the general health of the individuals:
1. Health education efforts are directed at encouraging people
to develop good health habits (Adequate nutrition, exercise)
and to adopt hygienic practices (hand washing,….
2. Specific protective measures such as, chemoprophylaxis,
sero-prophylaxis, vaccination


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At environmental level

Environmental sanitation is used to provide an
adequate sewage system, safe drinking water,
clean air and proper ventilation.


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II- Secondary Prevention:

It is the early detection and prompt treatment of a disease, thus
hinder the progress of a disease and prevent complications. i.e.
intervention in early pathogenesis phase.

Measures of secondary prevention include:
1. Screening programs are used to detect diseases at early
preclinical stages, when effective therapy may either cure the
disease or limit its progression

2. Primary medical care: through early case finding at PHCC. It
is the predominant form of secondary prevention.

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III- Tertiary prevention:
Actions taken when the disease process has
advanced beyond its early stages
i.e. intervention in late pathogenesis phase.
The aim of tertiary prevention is limitation of
disability and rehabilitation from disease.
Tools for tertiary prevention include rehabilitation


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It is a measure to train disable individuals to
reach the highest level of functional ability by
using combined coordinated medical, social,
vocational, psychological and educational


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Rehabilitation includes:
1. Medical rehabilitation – restoration of function or
physical loss.
2. Educational rehabilitation change of educational
3. Vocational (occupational) rehabilitation –
restoration of the capacity to earn a livelihood.
4. Social rehabilitation: restoration of family and
social relationships.
5. Psychological rehabilitation: restoration of
personal confidence.

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Examples of uses of levels of prevention

All three levels of prevention can be used to control a
single disease process.
1. BCG Vaccination of newborns (primary prevention).
2. Screening and early treating a person with active
tuberculosis (secondary prevention) may prevent
transmission to another person (primary prevention).
3. In advanced cases of tuberculosis, occupational and
social rehabilitation (tertiary prevention) by
modification of working conditions may help to regain
the capacity to earn his livelihood.

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Reference books

– Walter R Dowdle. The Principles of Disease Elimination and
Eradication. December 31, 1999 / 48(SU01);23-7. Available at:
– Heymann D. Control of communicable diseases manual.
Washington DC: American Public Health Association, 2008.
– Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice. Third
Edition. An Introduction to Applied Epidemiology and
Biostatistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
– Beaglehole R, Bonita R, Kjellstrom T. Basic epidemiology. 2nd
edition. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2006


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