Basic Epidemiology Terms

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Basic epidemiology terms and definitions.

Agent

Entity necessary to cause disease in a susceptible host

Pathogenicity

The capacity to cause infection in a susceptible host

Virulence

The severity of disease that the agent causes in the host

Host

The organism that is susceptible to the effect of the agent

Environment

The conditions or influences that are not a part of the agent or host, but influence their interactions

Source for the Agent

Place where the agent originates, lives, grows, and multiples

Portal of Exit

Pathway by which the agent can leave the source

Mode of Transmission

The means of carrying the agent to the host

Direct Transmission

Transmission through contact

Indirect Transmission

Airborne, Vector borne, or Vehicle borne transmission

Portal of Entry

Pathway into the host that gives the agent access to tissue where it can multiply or act

Epidemic

Occurrence of more cases of disease than would normally be expected in a specific place or group of people over a given period of time

Outbreak

Another term for "Epidemic"

Endemic

High background rate of disease

Pandemic

Very widespread, often global, disease

Case Definition

Set of standard criteria for deciding whether or not a person has a certain disease

Absolute Risk

The observed or calculated probability of an event under study

Association

Statistical dependence between two or more events, characteristics, or other variables

Bias

Deviation of results or inferences from the truth, or processes leading to such deviation

Case-Control Study

Retrospective comparison of exposures of persons with disease to those of persons without the disease

Cohort Study

Prospective of exposed and non-exposed defined groups, with a comparison of disease rates during the time covered

Dose-Response Relationship

A relationship in which change in amount, intensity, or duration of exposure is associated with a change - either an increase or decrease - in risk of a specific outcome

Determinant

Any definable factor that effects a change in health condition or other characteristic

Incidence

The number of new cases of illness commencing, or of persons falling ill, during a specified time period in a given population

Odds Ratio

A measure of the degree of association

Prevalence

The proportion of persons with a particular disease within a given population at a given time

Prognosis

The possible outcomes of a disease or condition and the likelihood that each one will occur

Relative Risk

The ratio of the probability of developing, in a specified period of time, an outcome among those receiving treatment or exposed to a risk factor, compared with the probability of developing the outcome if the risk factor or intervention is not present

Risk Factors

Patient characteristics or factors associated with an increased probability of developing a disease or condition

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