Epidemics and Pandemics

Epidemics and Pandemics

September 2, 2019 15 By Peter Engel


With the constant media coverage of diseases
like the zika virus, ebola, H1N1 and the yearly flu, we keep hearing about the threat of epidemics
and pandemics, but what do these really mean when it comes to disease emergence and spread? The baseline or endemic level of a disease,
is the amount that is usually present in a given community. An epidemic is a drastic increase in the number
of people infected with that disease, in that same community. A pandemic refers to an epidemic that has
spread to several countries or continents, affecting a large number of people. So what can cause an epidemic? Epidemics can be caused by a couple different
factors including: • An increase in the amount of a disease
or its virulence • Its appearance in a new location
• An enhanced mode of transmission • A change in the susceptibility of the
host to being infected and
• Increased host exposure or a new method of host infection 3 common ways epidemics can be spread are:
• From a common-source, where a group of people are all exposed to an infectious agent
or toxin from the same source • By propagated outbreak, with transmission
from one person to another Or
• Using a vector or carrier (like mosquitoes) that interact with humans and transmits the
disease To classify the spread of disease as a pandemic,
there need to be community level outbreak epidemics in at least one other country in
a different world health organization defined region, which means the disease is starting
to spread around the world. By this time the respective governments of
outbreak-stricken countries should have taken action to halt disease progression and implement
national health strategies. So next time you hear about epidemics and
pandemics on the news, you don’t need to prepare to flee to Antarctica. Take some time
to learn more about the disease, how it’s spread and where it is prevalent, to keep
yourself safe. For more information please visit the WHO’s
website at www.who.int