Epidemics, Pandemics, and Outbreaks
What are the differences
between these three?
A disease outbreak happens when a disease occurs in
greater numbers than expected in a community or region or during a season. An outbreak may occur in one
community or even extend to several countries. It can last from days to years.
Sometimes a single case of a contagious disease is
considered an outbreak. This may be true if it is an unknown disease, is new to a community, or has been absent
from a population for a long time.
An epidemic occurs when an infectious disease spreads
rapidly to many people. In 2003, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic took the lives of nearly
800 people worldwide.
is a global disease outbreak. HIV/AIDS is an example of one of the most destructive global pandemics in
Influenza pandemics have
occurred more than once.
influenza killed 40-50 million people in 1918. (675,000 in the United States)
influenza killed 2 million people in 1957. (69,800 in the United States)
Kong influenza killed 1 million people in 1968. (33,800 in the United States)
(Swine Flu) killed 18,300 in the United States in 2010.
influenza pandemic occurs when:
- A new
subtype of virus arises. This means humans have little or no immunity to it. Everyone is at
virus spreads easily from person to person, such as through sneezing or coughing.
virus begins to cause serious illness worldwide. With past flu pandemics, the virus reached all parts of
the globe within six to nine months. With the speed of air travel today, public health experts believe an
influenza pandemic could spread much more quickly. A pandemic can occur in waves. And all parts of the
world may not be affected at the same time.
Health Organization (WHO) provides an influenza pandemic alert system, with a scale ranging from Phase 1 (a low
risk of a flu pandemic) to Phase 6 (a full-blown pandemic):
virus in animals has caused no known infections in humans.
animal flu virus has caused infection in humans.
cases or small clusters of disease occur in humans. Human-to-human transmission, if any, is insufficient to
cause community-level outbreaks.
risk for a pandemic is greatly increased but not certain.
of disease between humans is occurring in more than one country of one WHO region.
outbreaks are in at least one additional country in a different WHO region from phase 5. A global pandemic
is under way.
Ebola. The threat is here. How well the government is prepared, or inspired, to control it is yet to be
seen. Ebola virus disease (formerly
known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. It
is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood,
body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care.
During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close
contact with sick people and deceased patients.
According to the above
chart this is considered a Phase 6. Time will tell how well it is controlled in the United States.
Pandemics may not be initiated by man, such as wars, they can be controlled by man. They can play a huge effect
on depopulating the Globe of the "useless eaters" if that is the intention. Time will tell how well our
government protects the citizens.