Epidemic vs. pandemic - Deepstash

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When Does an Epidemic Become a Pandemic?

Epidemic vs. pandemic

An epidemic is a broad term used to describe any problem that is actively spreading and has grown out of control.

The pandemic relates to geographic spread. It describes a disease that affects a whole country or the entire world.

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The Third Cholera Pandemic (1852-1860)
The Third Cholera Pandemic (1852-1860)

Cholera is a bacterial infection and is mainly contracted through food and water.

The largest cholera outbreak originated in India and spread beyond its borders, killing about 23 000 people in Britain alone.

The Asian Flu Pandemic (1957)

The Asian Flu Pandemic was an outbreak of avian influenza that started in China and spread worldwide.

The estimated death rate was one to two million people.

Typhus fever in World War 1 (1945)

Typhus fever is spread by lice. The war brought on poor sanitation that probably led to a higher density of lice and made the transmission more prevalent.

Typhus fever caused three million deaths in Russia alone.

Spreading of diseases

Transmissible diseases existed during humankind’s hunter-gatherer days, but the shift to agrarian life 10,000 years ago created communities that made epidemics more possible.
We started building cities and forging trade routes to connect with other cities, declaring wars with them; all these made more likely the existence of pandemics.

430 B.C.: Plague of Athens

The earliest recorded pandemic happened during the Peloponnesian War. It passed through Libya, Ethiopia, and Egypt,  and it reached Athens as the Spartans laid siege. Two-thirds of the population died.
The disease, suspected to have been typhoid fever, weakened the Athenians significantly and played a big role in their defeat by the Spartans.

165 A.D.: The Antonine Plague

It may have been an early appearance of smallpox that began with the Huns.
The Huns then infected the Germans, who passed it to the Romans and then returning troops spread it throughout the Roman empire.  This plague continued until about 180 A.D., claiming Emperor Marcus Aurelius as one of its victims.

Flattening the curve
Flattening the curve

It means that all the social distancing measures being adopted these days in many countries aren’t so much about preventing illness but rather slowing down the rate at which people get sick with the new disease.
This takes off the pressure of hospitals and it makes it possible to have the space and qualified personnel for treating the real sensitive cases (older people, for example).

Preventing system overload

Staying home during the pandemic helps prevent health systems from being overloaded.
Overloading hospitals can likely be averted with protective measures like closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, working from home, self-quarantine, self-isolation, avoiding crowds. All these keep the virus from spreading fast.