How do global pandemics affect our lives?

What is a pandemic?

Pandemic: An epidemic (a sudden outbreak) that becomes very widespread and affects a whole region, a continent, or the world.

The word "pandemic" comes from the Greek "pan-", "all" + "demos", "people or population" = "pandemos" = "all the people." A pandemic affects all (nearly all) of the people.

Compare and contrast:
  • An epidemic affects more than the expected number of cases of disease occurring in a community or region during a given period of time. A sudden severe outbreak within a region or a group as, for example, AIDS in Africa or AIDS in intravenous drug users.
  • An endemic is present in a community at all times but in low frequency. An endemic is continuous as in the case of malaria in some areas of the world or as with illicit drugs in some neighborhoods.

Examples of Pandemics:
Avian Flu (H5N1)
Spanish Flu
Swine Flu (H1N1)

What is the flu and how does theflu work?
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu is not the same as a cold, although they share many of the same symptoms. (Click the link above for more details and an excellent diagram of how the flu works.)

Listen to this audio link from the CDC Influenza Division that describes swine flu.
Dr. Bresee describes its signs and symptoms, how it's transmitted, medicines to treat it, steps people can take to protect themselves from it, and what people should do if they become ill.