Week 11 Discussion: Infectious Disease and Natural Disaster Paper

Week 11 Discussion: Infectious Disease and Natural Disaster Paper

Infectious Disease and Natural Disaster

Natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods result in adverse ramifications, including disease outbreaks. In this sense, there is a significant association between natural disasters and diseases. According to Charnley et al. (2021), post-disaster infectious disease outbreaks are prevalent because of alterations in disease vector distributions, limited access to quality and timely healthcare, population displacement, and destruction of infrastructure like sewage systems that expose people to adverse health events. Examples of post-disaster infectious diseases include cholera, typhoid, norovirus, rotavirus, and respiratory complications. These diseases exacerbate the detrimental consequences of disasters by contributing to a high mortality rate, increased care costs, prolonged hospitalization, and poor quality of life. Healthcare professionals are responsible for applying concepts of population health and epidemiology in assessing health outcomes after the disaster and mitigating negative health effects. Consequently, this paper discusses disasters from an epidemiologic perspective and elaborates on how nurses can address health outcomes.

Brief Description of a Recent Natural Disaster

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On 6th February 2023, Turkey and Syria experienced one of the most devastating earthquakes that originated from the Southwest part of the East Anatolian Fault Zone. According to Mavrouli et al. (2023), this earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale accompanied by several aftershocks that struck South-eastern Turkey and Northern Syria. The primary and secondary causes of this earthquake include hydrological anomalies, liquefaction phenomena, ground cracks, and surface ruptures (Mavrouli et al., 2023). Like other past earthquakes, this disaster resulted in massive destruction and adverse population health outcomes. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC] (2023) contends that the earthquake affected over 23 million people.

The Health Consequences of the Disaster at the Population Level

Turkey and Syria are contemplating an emerging health crisis exacerbated by the earthquake’s adverse effects on the environment and infrastructure. The immediate negative health outcomes of the earthquake were injuries that contributed to high mortality rates. Secondly, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC] (2023) argues that survivors experience trauma related to the disaster and are susceptible to other health conditions, including infectious diseases. The disease significantly destroyed water and sewerage systems and shelters. Destruction of shelters, water, and sewerage systems is a profound risk factor for food-and waterborne diseases and respiratory infections (ECDC, 2023). Outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, and respiratory viruses like influenza, adenoviruses, and human metapneumovirus are imminent if appropriate preventive measures are lacking.

Concepts of Population Health and Epidemiology Used to Assess the Health Outcomes after the Disaster

Assessing the health outcomes of the earthquake is a profound strategy for informing preventive and response mechanisms. During the disaster, multi-disciplinary agencies applied various response mechanisms, including evacuation, comprehensive searches for victims trapped in the debris of destroyed houses, and emergency medical services. However, it would be essential to implement epidemiological and population health concepts to assess the health outcomes of the disaster. For example, studies of prevalence and incidences of particular health outcomes would be profound for assessing the magnitude of health-related conditions and an ideal source of information for estimating the burden of the disaster (Buitrago-Garcia, Salanti & Low, 2022). Studies of prevalence and incidence are vital aspects of descriptive epidemiology.


Concepts of Health and Epidemiology Used to Mitigate Negative Health Effects After the Disaster

Mitigation of negative health outcomes of the Earthquake represents the primary objective of response measures like evacuation, comprehensive searches for victims, emergency care, and post-disaster trauma care. These strategies touch on various concepts of population health and epidemiology. Friis & Sellers (2021) argue that epidemiology is interdisciplinary since it draws insights from biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, alongside other fields, including pathology, virology, genetics, clinical medicine, and microbiology. The perspective of epidemiology as an interdisciplinary field calls for collaboration between professionals from different fields during disasters to mitigate negative health outcomes (Friis & Sellers, 2021). For example, nurses, social workers, biostatisticians, psychotherapists, and toxicologists should collaborate to provide emergency care to the injured people, support evacuation and resettlement activities, conduct surveillance, and provide post-disaster rehabilitative care to survivors experiencing trauma and other mental issues.

Besides the perspective of epidemiology as interdisciplinary, analytic epidemiology could play a significant role in mitigating the adverse health effects of earthquakes. For instance, this epidemiological theme entails information regarding differences in people affected by events and disasters. Analytic epidemiology provides information about the underlying risks and protective factors (Hernandez & Kim, 2022). For example, it can inform an investigation of deaths and injuries associated with the earthquake. Therefore, it underpins the assessment of determinants of health and other issues that predispose people to the adverse effects of disasters.

Nurses’ Leadership Roles in Mitigating Negative Health Outcomes Following Disasters

Nurses play a significant role in disaster response and recovery mechanisms by applying specific knowledge and skills necessary for minimizing health risks and addressing life-threatening conditions. According to Firouzkouhi et al. (2021), nurses exhibit various clinical skills, including the ability to use specialized equipment and the competency to perform non-conventional roles during emergency incidences. These skills and competencies are central to the mitigation of adverse events during and after a disaster. For example, nurses provide emergency communication, create areas for triage, organize evacuation activities, and plan referrals to more specialized hospitals during a disaster (Firouzkouhi et al., 2021). These activities require physical and mental readiness, as well as appropriate leadership and management skills.

After a disaster, nurses play a vital role in restorative care and recovery interventions. They lead interdisciplinary activities for preventing infectious diseases, provide psychological support to victims and survivors, transfer victims to specialized care units, manage shelters, and conduct field assessments of community-based disaster response strategies (Firouzkouhi et al., 2021). These responsive measures can profoundly save lives, avert the risk of post-disaster mental health disorders, and enable the affected communities to re-establish their livelihoods. For example, preventing infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, and respiratory conditions is central to the overarching objective of reducing the mortality rate and improving the quality of life of the affected people.


Natural disasters and diseases are inseparable adverse events that contribute to multiple detrimental consequences, including a high mortality rate, poor quality of life, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and increased economic burden. Despite the conspicuous association between disasters and diseases, people often misconstrue this relationship. For example, the February 6th earthquake that occurred in Turkey and Syria resulted in massive destruction of infrastructure, injuries, and deaths. However, if sustainable epidemiologic and public health measures are lacking, the affected regions will be susceptible to various infectious diseases, including cholera, typhoid, norovirus, rotavirus, and respiratory complications. Consequently, nurses should demonstrate leadership when spearheading response and recovery interventions like rehabilitative care for the victims, shelter management, referrals for injured people, and evaluation of disaster response plans.


Buitrago-Garcia, D., Salanti, G., & Low, N. (2022). Studies of prevalence: How a basic epidemiology concept has gained recognition in the COVID-19 pandemic. BMJ Open, 12(10), e061497. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2022-061497

Charnley, G. E. C., Kelman, I., Gaythorpe, K. A. M., & Murray, K. A. (2021). Traits and risk factors of post-disaster infectious disease outbreaks: A systematic review. Scientific Reports, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85146-0

European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. (2023). communicable disease threats report (pp. 1–12). https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/communicable-disease-threats-report-week-7-2023.pdf

Firouzkouhi, M., Kako, M., Abdollahimohammad, A., Balouchi, A., & Farzi, J. (2021). Nurses’ roles in nursing disaster model: A systematic scoping review. Iranian Journal of Public Health, 50(5). https://doi.org/10.18502/ijph.v50i5.6105

Friis, R. H., & Sellers, T. A. (2021). Epidemiology for public health practice (6th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Hernandez, J. B., & Kim, P. (2022). Epidemiology morbidity and mortality. StatPearls. https://www.statpearls.com/ArticleLibrary/viewarticle/21202

Mavrouli, M., Mavroulis, S., Lekkas, E., & Tsakris, A. (2023). An emerging health crisis in Turkey and Syria after the earthquake disaster on 6 february 2023: Risk factors, prevention and management of infectious diseases. Healthcare, 11(7), 1022. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11071022




The earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 was one of the worst natural disasters in history. According to Peranteau et al. (2010):
Immediately after the earthquake the need so vastly outstripped the resources that patients generally lacked basic identifiers and medical records […] Treatment plans were reduced to word of mouth. At first we used scraps of paper or cardboard taped to the patient … (p. 127)
Nearly a quarter of a million people were killed with another quarter of a million injured, and millions of people were displaced from their homes (World Health Organization, 2010). In the ensuing months, a cholera epidemic ravaged the already traumatized country. The destruction of infrastructure, contamination of water supply, and increased human vulnerability from displacement create favorable conditions for the spread of infectious diseases following natural disasters. Respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases are also commonly found encountered after floods, tsunamis, and other types of meteorological and geophysical disasters.
In the aftermath of such tragedies, priority is placed on implementing control measures to re-establish basic healthcare and prevent epidemics. Nurses often play important leadership roles in both domestic and international disaster response. For this Discussion, you consider disasters from an epidemiologic perspective and how nurses can address health outcomes following them.

• Briefly describe your selected recent natural disaster.
• Discuss the health consequences of the disaster at the population level.
• Explain how the concepts of population health and epidemiology discussed in this course were or could have been used to assess health outcomes after this disaster.
• Explain how the concepts of population health and epidemiology discussed in this course were or could have been used to mitigate negative health effects following this disaster.
• Describe the specific leadership roles that nurses have in mitigating negative health outcomes following disasters.
Please provide headings for each bullet with examples and details


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