epidemiology, field of medicine concerned with the study of epidemics , outbreaks of disease that affect large numbers of people. Epidemiologists, using sophisticated statistical analyses, field investigations, and complex laboratory techniques, investigate the cause of a disease, its distribution (geographic, ecological, and ethnic), method of spread, and measures for control and prevention. Epidemiological investigations once concentrated on such communicable diseases as tuberculosis , influenza , and cholera , but now also encompass cancer , heart disease , and other diseases affecting large numbers of people.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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