Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Aimee Ferraro


The close proximity of the United States to the Mexican border poses a concern for communicable diseases because of the high flow of population movement. The purpose of this retrospective, quantitative study was to identify risks associated with respiratory diseases using an analysis of archived data from the Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) surveillance program. Based on the epidemiologic triangle theory, demographic and etiologic factors were analyzed to examine any associations with SARI in this population. Between 2010 and 2012, 798 subjects enrolled in this program, with 336 (42.1%) testing positive for respiratory pathogens. Chi square analysis determined that age (X2 (4, N = 786) = 255.361, p < 0.001), clinic location (X2 (3, N = 780) = 290.841, p < 0.001), and race/ethnicity (X2 (4, N = 762) = 1456.701, p < 0.001) showed significant associations with SARI in the population. The logistic regression model showed that the youngest age group (0-4) had the highest risk of developing SARI compared to other age groups (5-24 OR = 0.521, 95% CI [0.311-0.871]; 25-49 OR = 0.377, 95% CI [0.224-0.636]; 50-64 OR = 0.211, 95% CI [0.118-0.376]; >65 OR = 0.225, 95% CI [0.143-0.356]. African Americans were also at higher risk of developing SARI compared to Hispanic Americans (OR = 3.997, 95% CI [1.272-12.558]. This study promotes positive social change by informing efforts to increase vaccination and health literacy, improve the accessibility and availability of preventive health care in low socioeconomic communities, and promote healthy lifestyles among at-risk groups. These steps will improve the overall health of the communities along the U.S.-Mexico border region.