( By A Study Guide (Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) )

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Lesson 2 - Postdisaster potential of communicable disease epidemics

Study Guide

This lesson discusses the potential of epidemic outbreaks of communicable disease after disaster. It defines three ways in which susceptible persons may be exposed to endemic disease, which may cause subsequent epidemics or increased levels of endemic communicable disease. It also discusses special problems that may be encountered in encamped populations and measures that may prevent communicable diseases. Also, it summarizes the epidemic potential of selected communicable diseases following disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Learning Objectives

Recognize the potential of epidemic outbreaks of communicable diseases after disaster.
Recognize the different ways in which susceptible individuals may be exposed to endemic diseases.
Know the risks involved in encamped populations.
Know the sanitary requirements for encamped populations.

Learning Activities

Read pages 13-17 in the manual.
Read, but do not memorize, Table 2 in the manual.
Read, but do not memorize, Annex 4 in the manual.


Complete the Self-Assessment Test.


Lesson 2 - Self-Assessment Test

Multiple Choice

Circle the correct answer:

1. Sanitation requirements during disaster relief operations require that the tent camp sites be:

a. on a slope of land with a nature of soil that favors easy drainage
b. protected from adverse weather conditions
c. away from mosquito breeding sites, refuse dumps, and commercial and industrial zones
d. all of the above
e. a and c

2. Which of the following diseases does not have a high epidemic potential following a disaster in Latin America or the Caribbean:

a. diarrhea
b. viral hepatitis A
c. viral hepatitis B
d. influenza
e. typhoid fever


Indicate T or F:

____3. In developing countries, epidemics are common following natural disasters.

____4. In general, rural populations migrating to cities are more susceptible to communicable diseases than urban populations migrating to rural areas.

____5. In an encampment, if an epidemic can be avoided for the first two weeks following a disaster, the risk becomes much less.

____6. Foreign voluntary relief teams are seldom at risk from communicable diseases since their immunization levels are high and they take appropriate precautions.

____7. If a disease has never been reported in a disaster area, an epidemiologist can assume there is no need for surveillance related to that disease.

____8. Reports of communicable diseases should be expected to increase during medical relief periods following a disaster whether there is an actual increase or not.

Answer Key

1. d

5. F

2. e

6. F

3. F

7. F

4. T

8. T

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