Epidemic Curves and Homicide Counts in Baltimore

One of the tools that we use in the investigation of outbreaks is the epidemic curve, or, as we say in the biz, the “epi curve.” An epidemic curve is a simple graphical representation of the number of cases per a unit of time over a span of time. For example, you could graph the number of new cases of diarrhea when you’re investigating an outbreak of cholera. You’d be able to see when the epidemic began, if it has peaked, and in which direction is it heading… Is it ending or continuing. Epi curves are also useful in helping epidemiologists understand what kind of outbreak they’re dealing with. For example, the epidemic curve below is a point source epidemic, where the source of the infection was one single source. The cases had one exposure to the causative agent, and the agent was somehow removed from the environment and did not cause any more cases. As you can see, the epidemic started

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The Imbalances of Violence

There’s a theory in criminology called the “Routine Activities Theory.” The theory posits that there are three factors that figure into whether or not violence happens in a particular place and time, and how much violence happens. The three factors are targets, guardians and villains (aka “motivated offenders”). I’ll explain the factors a little more in a little bit, but I wanted to clarify something. Many of the criminology theories place some burden of responsibility for a crime on the victim. This is different than blaming the victim. For example, if a man is murdered in a back alley at 3am in the morning, we can say that there was some responsibility on the victim when we ask why they were in that back alley at 3am in the morning. It goes without saying that the biggest part of the responsibility and all of the blame goes to the person committing the murder. The “Lifestyle Precipitation” theory is big on

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