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FutureStarrWhat is a pandemic
Apparently, a lot of people aren't sure. Merriam-Webster reports that "pandemic" is the seventh most frequently looked-up word in its online dictionary this year. The definition: "occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population."An epidemic of influenza is different from the dreaded pandemic that scientists and world health officials fear is nigh. We might see an epidemic of seasonal influenza during any given year. In fact, we just had one.
Influenza pandemics have struck about three times every century since the 1500s, or roughly every 10-50 years. There was one in 1957-1958 and one in 1968-1969. The most infamous pandemic flu of the 20th century, however, was that of 1918-1919. An estimated 40 million people died in less than a year, and what made it so different from seasonal flu epidemics is that it killed primarily young people, those aged 20-45. The CDC keeps track of the influenza strains that circulate widely in the U.S. each year. In the 2004-2005 flu season, the dominant strains were influenza type A (H3N2) and influenza type B viruses. A version of the virus responsible for the 1918 pandemic, type A (H1N1), also circulated.
You probably know that COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is a pandemic. But what’s the difference between a pandemic, an epidemic, and an outbreak? And when does a disease become a public health concern? Here are the basics of the spread of serious diseases and what you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your community.A pandemic is a disease outbreak that spreads across countries or continents. It affects more people and takes more lives than an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic when it became clear that the illness was severe and that it was spreading quickly over a wide area. (Source: www.webmd.com)