Public health has been defined as the science and art of disease prevention, prolonging life, and promoting health and well-being through organized community effort for the sanitation of the environment, the control of communicable infections, the organization of medical and nursing services for the early diagnosis and prevention of disease, the education of the individual in personal health and the development of the social machinery to assure everyone a standard of living adequate for the maintenance or improvement of health.1 In the era of the eradication of smallpox in the sixties and seventies of the last century the world was optimistic about a future world with controlled communicable diseases. The eradication of smallpox inspired the world to eradicate poliomyelitis as well. This optimism was in vain. The poliomyelitis eradication experienced drawbacks, resulting in an all or nothing battle.2 Also old infectious diseases like Influenza, Dengue and Tuberculosis have revived and Legionella, HIV and SARS and the development of antibiotic resistance in the form of MRSA and multi-drug resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are new examples of emerging communicable diseases.3 Microbial agents that cause communicable diseases have proven to be very dynamic, resilient, and well adapted to exploit opportunities for change, development and emergence of new species and for spread. In the “global village” the increase of travelling of humans and animals and the enormous increase in meat industry and its antibiotic use, have created new opportunities for sexually transmitted diseases, zoonoses, antibiotic resistance and emerging diseases.

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Makenbach, Prof. Dr. J.P. (promotor), Sturmans, Prof. Dr. F. (promotor),
F. Sturmans (Ferd)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Mertens, P. L. J. M. (2008, January 11). Outbreaks: Sources of Epidemiological Knowledge in Communicable Disease Control. Retrieved from