Course description

An introduction to the scientific, policy, ethical and operational aspects of public health and wider responses to high risk biological agent events, epidemics and bioterrorism.

The course will run for 4 weeks and it is expected that the materials will take no more than 4 hours of your time including reflection and further reading.

In the first week, you will learn about the public health aspects of biosecurity and biosafety, why they are important topics, the key underlying concepts and definitions and what the current situation is relating to high risk biological agents.

In the second week, you will learn about epidemics, how they are described, researched and investigated. Key features of epidemics will be discussed, including some important historical examples to assist you with understanding the material.

In the third week, you will learn about the importance of health surveillance, health intelligence and important differences between deliberate and accidental epidemic events. A well known historical case of an outbreak in the Soviet Union, and its subsequent investigation and analysis is presented.

In the last week, you will learn about how front line response to high risk biological events is conducted. Policy, ethical and governance factors will be outlined that are critical to reducing the risk of biosecurity and bioterrorism events now and into the future.

Throughout the course a feature presentation called "Pandemic" will assist you in connecting the various components discussed during each week, and highlight some important aspects of biosecurity and bioterrorism events using a fictional scenario.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Understand the basic principles of infectious disease investigation, epidemiology and public health response.
  2. Describe the basic principles of communicable disease response.
  3. Recognise the differences between natural versus unnatural patterns of infectious disease.
  4. Interpret and analyse health intelligence relating to biosecurity events.
  5. Identify the key public health concerns relating to biosecurity and bioterrorism events.
  6. Understand basic control measures for responding to biosecurity events.
  7. Appreciate the basic policy and ethical concerns relating to contemporary biosecurity.

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This article is from the free online course:

Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Public Health Dimensions

UNSW Sydney