Research Paper on Ross River FeverCritical Appraisal of Ross River Fever Epidemiological Study Designs
The epidemiological situation in the region of the Ross River is traditionally quite unstable. The risk of catching the Ross River Fever, also known as the Ross River virus is very high, though specialist cannot definitely say which people and when are particularly susceptible to such a risk. At the same time, the development and progress of the Ross River fever produces a negative effect on the health of an individual that makes it treatment quite complicated. On the other hand, it is obvious that it would be more effective to prevent the epidemic spread of the disease than treat its effects and the disease proper when large masses of people catches the Ross River fever. In such a situation, the research of the epidemiological situation in the region of Ross River and the profound analysis and scientific evaluation of the problem of the appearance and progress of the epidemic of the fever are extremely important because the more health care professionals as well as ordinary people know about causes of the disease, the mechanism of its spread and risk factors, the more protected people will be and the lower will be the risk of catching the Ross River fever. The latter is, by the way, a very serious problem since practically every year a large number of people catches the Ross River fever and, what is more important, a considerable number of infected are tourists. In this respect, it should be said that the improvement of the epidemiological situation in the region of the Ross River becomes even more important in such a context since tourism contributes consistently to the economic development of the region, while the deterioration of the epidemiological situation in the region will naturally lead to the decrease of the number of tourists. Obviously, effects of such development of the epidemic in the region of the Ross River will have at least two major negative effects: the deterioration of the health of the local population which still remains practically unprotected in face of the epidemic, and, secondly, the deterioration of the economic situation in the result of the decrease of the number of tourists in the region.
Thus, the need to study the epidemiological situation concerning the Ross River fever is obvious, but in order to conduct an effective and reliable research it is necessary to take into consideration past studies and critically evaluate them. This will help understand common findings of past researches and reveal their drawbacks and limitations, as well as their advantages that may be very useful for the further research of this problem.
Basically, the Ross River fever is not an absolutely new disease and specialists (Curran, 1997) have researched the nature of the disease, its causes, and the general epidemiological situation in the region of the Ross River. In such a way, it is possible to estimate that, in general, the Ross River fever is not a kind of terra incognita for researchers. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that till the present moments specialists do not possess the full information concerning the Ross River fever. In fact, it is quite a paradoxical situation, since researchers of the disease have been conducted for about half of a century (the first researches of the Ross River fever started in the mid-20th century), but till the present moment specialists cannot fully protect the local population as well as tourists from the epidemic of this fever.
At the same time, it should be said that all the researches conducted in relation to the Ross River fever are very important since they provide specialists with valuable information on the nature of the disease and the mechanism of its spread, including its peculiarities and specific features and characteristics. In this respect, it should be said that many researchers focus their attention on the study of the origin and causes of the Ross River fever and pay a particular attention to the discovery of the virus and its further researches. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the Ross River fever is the most common and widely spread arbovirus infection in Australia (Weinstein, 1997). It was first identified in the first half of the 20th century. Some researchers (Russell, 1998) estimate that the roots of the Ross River fever may be traced back to 1920s, when the virus was first identified as epidemic polyarthritis in the Murrumbidgee River area of the South Wales, Australia (Curran, 19997). However, it is only by 1960 the cause of the epidemic was identified. According to researchers (Tong, 1998), the cause of the virus provoking fever is a mosquito-born arbovirus, which was first identified in 1960. It is worth mentioning the fact that the virus was isolated from the pool of Aedes vigilax mosquitos collected around the Ross River area near Townsville in 1963 after which the virus was actually named (Weinstein, 1997). In fact, these researchers were extremely important since they contributed to the understanding of the mechanism of the spread of the disease and reveal the major cause of the fever. As a result, on the basis of this information, it is possible to develop methods of the prevention of epidemics in the Ross River area as well as in other regions where the disease is widely spread.
At the same time, in such a situation, it is extremely important to diagnose the Ross River fever in a possibly shorter time, in order to prevent the development of the disease. In such a way, it is possible to minimize the negative effects of the disease on human health. in this respect, it should be said that many researchers are dedicated to the study of risk factors that increase consistently the threat of epidemics and the rapid spread of the Ross River fever among large masses of people. It is worth mentioning the fact that according to researches (Tong, 1998), the number of people for whom laboratory-confirmed cases of the Ross River fever were reported constituted 53,347 people, which fell ill in the period from 1990 to 2000.
Also, researchers attempted to understand the risk factors that increase the threat of the epidemic spread of the disease. As a rule, such studies have examined the relationship between climate variation and the fever and its epidemic spread (Hawkes, 1986). Models, developed by researchers targeted at the revelation of the interdependence between the climate and the epidemic. In the result of such researches, the cases of the Ross River fever have been linked to climatic factors. Among the major risk factors that contribute to the spread of the disease were identified rainfalls, high tide and temperature (Tong, 1998). These findings led some researchers to the conclusion that the Ross River fever is rather a seasonal disease, which can be particularly dangerous and acquire epidemic characteristics during seasons when the level of rainfalls and temperature rises considerably, especially if the situation is aggravated by high tides, which, as it has been just mentioned above, are another risk factor of the epidemic spread of the Ross River fever.
Speaking about the most widely spread methodologies used by researchers in their studies of the Ross River fever, it is possible to name the use of time-series methodology (Weinstein, 1997). In fact, this methodology is traditionally used in econometrics, but researchers of the Ross River fiver applied this methodology to study effects of environmental exposures, such as air pollution on mortality and morbidity (McMichae, 1986). Also, autoregression integrated moving average (ARIMA) models were widely applied by researchers since these models are very useful for analyzing non-stationary time-series data containing ordinary or seasonal trends (see Table 2). In fact, these models may be really highly effective since the Ross River fever is a climate-sensitive disease and these models may be used for the collection and analysis of data on this virus. Finally, it should be pointed out that many researches conducted in relation to the problem of the epidemiological spread of the Ross River fever arrived to the similar conclusions, especially in regard to factors that increase the risk of catching the disease. To put it more precisely, many researchers (Tong, 1998) agree that the climate variability is very often associated with the increase of incidences of the Ross River fever. Among the most significant climatic factors, specialists (Curran, 1997) single out humidity and rainfall level, which play an important role in the spread of the diseases (see Table 1). Researchers have found out that humidity and rainfalls contribute consistently to the breeding and development of mosquitoes, which actually transmit the disease to people (Tong, 1998). As for temperature, researchers (Weinstein, 1997) basically agree that it has a significant impact on the length and efficiency of extrinsic incubation of arboviruses in their vectors and on the survival of adult mosquitoes. Therefore, temperature increases consistently the risk of catching the Ross River fever and its epidemiologic spread in a relatively short period of time on the condition that the temperature is high enough for the fast breeding and development of mosquitoes.
Among the variety of researches and research designs that have been conducted in relation to the Ross River fever, it is hardly possible to distinguish the only one which could be viewed as a perfect sample of the research that could be used in the further study of the problem of the Ross River fever and its epidemiological characteristics. In this regard, it should be said that, while working on a research, it is necessary to clearly identify goals and objectives of the research in order to use methods and designs that are the most applicable to the specific research project.
Basically, on analyzing risk factors that can affect the development of the Ross River fever or that can increase threats to human health, it is possible to use time-series methods since they are the most effective. To put it more precisely, these methods can help reveals basic trends in the development of the Ross River fever and major characteristics of this epidemic disease. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the experience of researches that conducted their study to reveal the correlation between climate and the Ross River fever. In such a context, the use of long-term observations and statistics seems to be the most effective methods which can help reveal the basic correlations between climate and the disease in the long-run. At the same time, the application of these methods also contributes to the better understanding of the nature of the disease and its progress in the definite period of time. For the same purposes, it is possible to use ARIMA models which can be very helpful in the research of risk factors of the Ross River fever and potential threats that environment can expose people to. At this point, the use of historical retrospection may be also very helpful. In fact, often to understand the essence of the disease, its nature, origin and development as well as major risk factors, it is necessary to analyze in depth the first facts of reported cases of the disease. The latter is practically impossible to do without the use of a kind of historical research of the development and spread of the disease in the region and nationwide. In such a context, researches dedicated to the history of the Ross River fever are particularly noteworthy. In fact, the research of the history of the development of the disease will enlarge opportunities of a researcher to have a larger and more objective view on the disease, which may be different from views that are currently dominating in the modern science. What is meant here is the fact that the contemporary science and researches of the Ross River fever may develop in a wrong direction just because of the traditional views and beliefs which were established under the impact of other researches conducted in this field. At the same time, the analysis of the history of the development and study of the disease may give a researcher a kind of insight concerning alternative ways and approaches to the research of the disease and its treatment. This may be very important because often the most effective methodologies of treatment of different diseases were developed spontaneously, if not to say by chance, simply because a researcher rejected traditional views and suggested an original solution of the problem.
At the same time, it is also important to conduct researches targeting at the improvement of the diagnosing of the disease. In fact, the diagnosing of the Ross River fever is very important, especially at the early stages, because it is an epidemic disease and, therefore, the earlier it is diagnosed the more effective the preventive measure of health care professionals will be. Moreover, the early diagnosis will not only facilitate the treatment of infected patients, but also decrease the risk of the spread of the epidemics. In this respect, it should be said that the analysis of the information on diagnosis of the Ross River fever, study of works of other researchers, interviews of health care professionals that work with patients suffering from this disease may be very helpful and effective. Obviously, such an approach will help learn the most effective ways of diagnosing the Ross River fever not only from theoretical studies and development, but also directly from health care professionals that work regularly with patients suffering from the disease and these professionals may have a huge practical experience of diagnosing the disease.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the research of the Ross River fever is very important since this epidemic disease affects a large number of people. In fact, this disease may be dangerous for human health and the research of risk factors that increase the threat of catching the Ross River fever may be very helpful in the development of effective ways of the prevention of the disease. In such a situation, it is possible to use the experience and design of other researches conducted in this field which can help better understand the origin, causes and development of the Ross River fever, its diagnosis and effective treatment.
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