Pandemics and Epidemics
Today's interconnected world makes it easier for diseases to spread rapidly, and over great distances. Lately, talk of epidemics and pandemics frequent the headlines. While such news can be scary, the right information is important for understanding how to keep yourself healthy and eliminate unnecessary fears.
What Are Pandemics and Epidemics?
Whether the spread of disease is classified as a pandemic or epidemic depends on how many people are affected. Find out more about these health situations with the resources recommended below.
Top Sites for Learning About Pandemics and Epidemics
WebMD reviews the differences between disease outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics. This article also examines the different phases of pandemics described by the World Health Organization, and the Pandemic Severity Index from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Encyclopedia Britannica explains the frequency with which pandemics and epidemics occur, and also discusses the response prompted by the emergence of the H1N1, or “swine flu” virus.
National Geographic provides a short review of flu epidemics and discusses the importance of vaccines in controlling the spread of disease. Don’t miss the videos about the global spread of diseases like West Nile Virus, HIV and more, as well as the article, “Tracking The Next Killer Flu.”
Scientific American offers a lengthy article focusing on the spread of disease in Africa, focusing specifically on how infections could move from animals to humans.
Health officials and historians often rely on information from the past when planning to prevent the spread of disease in the future. Read on to see how past pandemics have affected various populations.
Insights for Historic Pandemics and Epidemics
- In 2008, Science Daily published an article covering the discovery of the cause of specific historical flu epidemics.
Top Sites for Historic Pandemics and Epidemics
The BBC discusses the potential of the flu virus to become a pandemic, reviewing how the virus spreads, and how new strains affect people. Historical reviews of past flu pandemics, including Russian flu, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the Asian flu pandemic in 1957 and the H3N2 Hong Kong flu in 1968 are provided.
The Great Pandemic sets the stage for helping people understand how the 1918 flu pandemic spread through the United States. Learn what life was like back then, what happened when people began getting sick and even how residents of your own state were affected.
Preventing and Controlling Epidemics and Pandemics
People around the world have shown great interest in learning how to keep diseases from spreading, and preventing epidemics from occurring in the first place.
Insights for Preventing and Controlling Epidemics and Pandemics
- Researchers are continually searching for ways to prevent illnesses from reaching epidemic proportions. In 2008, network theory studies indicated that immunizing specific individuals within a social network could slow or stop the spread of disease.
- Preventing disease can still be difficult, however. In fact, even climate change and other environmental factors can affect the spread of disease.
Top Sites for Preventing and Controlling Epidemics and Pandemics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a comprehensive review of how to protect yourself and your family from influenza through good health habits. Find information for specific groups of people, including schools and childcare providers, parents, and people with asthma, diabetes or HIV/AIDS. Links to swine flu, avian flu and more are provided.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services explores the defenses people have against the spread of disease, including vaccine development and government monitoring of health situations. Also learn how officials are preparing for the next disease pandemic, or check out various offices within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention responsible for handling epidemics and pandemics.
Understanding Evolution presents “Ghosts of epidemics past,” which takes a look at HIV in particular, and explains how an “evolutionary quirk” may influence whether a person actually contracts the disease after being exposed.
News About Epidemics and Pandemics
It can be quite unnerving to hear talk of potential epidemics or pandemics on the news. Find reliable information about these situations using the news resources recommended here.
Insights for News About Epidemics and Pandemics
- Subscribe to e-mail alerts or RSS feeds for faster access to news when you find a site that provides information you find helpful.
- In 2009, NPR interviewed Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance, about the spread of disease. Archived news stories about swine flu and pandemics are also available.
Top Sites for News About Epidemics and Pandemics
The World Health Organization publishes its statements on health situations of public concern and updates on scares like the H1N1 influenza virus. Check also for video resources and communicable disease alert news.
Medical News Today has created a helpful page explaining what constitutes an epidemic or pandemic, and offering news stories about these health issues. Make sure to read some of the related articles about antibiotics and talking to your doctor about your health.
WebMD’s Cold and Flu Health Center provides some of the latest news headlines about flu viruses, resources for managing and understanding colds and flu and community forums for talking to others about health-related matters.
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service works to protect the nation through agricultural safety. Not all of the news on this site is specific to pandemics or epidemics, but developments about current issues, like H1N1 influenza, are discussed.