Ways to understand how pandemics work

Are you and your family prepared to stay home for weeks or months at a time if a severe pandemic swept the globe? Most people aren’t ready to weather such an emergency. Yet many experts agree that we should be preparing for such an event. Pandemics have been part of human history for thousands of years.

The word “pandemic” stems from the Greek words “pan” (meaning “all”) and “demos” (meaning “people”). Thus, a pandemic is a widespread illness virus sickens a large number of people worldwide. When an illness is isolated to one region or country, it’s called an “epidemic.”

Throughout history, humans have experienced a number of pandemics, some of which have killed tens of millions of people. These pandemics include cholera, smallpox, measles, yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria, and Ebola.

One of the most devastating and well-known pandemics is the Black Death, also known as the Plague, which swept across Europe and Asia during the mid-1300s. It’s estimated that the Plague killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, or 75 million to 200 million people.

The influenza virus has been the cause of many pandemics. In 1918, a strain of the virus called the “Spanish flu” swept the world. The CDC) estimates that this virus sickened up to one-third of the world’s population (around 500 million people) and killed more than 50 million people. Some died within hours of symptom onset.According to (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, there have been nine influenza pandemics over the past 300 years. According to the CDC’s research, these pandemics are not cyclical; in other words, there is no pattern to their occurrence. The longest gap between pandemics was 56 years, while the shortest gap was three years. We can’t say that we’re “overdue” for an influenza pandemic because each pandemic was a random event, and random events can’t be predicted.

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