What are influenza epidemics and pandemics?
- Definition of an epidemic versus a pandemic
- History of influenza epidemics/pandemics
- Expected mortality rates
- An analysis/assessment of how our society will cope with an outbreak
- The economic impact of an outbreak on our society
- Government action to deal with an outbreak
- Your personal viewpoint on current prevention efforts
- Prevention – the importance of vaccination in containing this threat
- Safety and effectiveness of influenza vaccines
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An epidemic is an outbreak of a disease in a localized area, usually a city or region. So if flu season were upon us, and a large number of influenza cases were being reported in New England or Boston, for example, that would be an epidemic. Epidemics also usually reoccur each season, in expected numbers and strengths.
A pandemic is a particular strain of virus that has spread throughout the world. In the year following World War I, 1919, an influenza outbreak circled the globe in a pandemic that killed more people than the war itself did. It was a similar strain of flu virus, H1N1 or Swine flu, that mimicked rather closely the 1919 strain, and that's one reason why people were afraid it could go pandemic.
Governments in the industrialized world have low cost, widespread immunization programs, and they innoculate the most vulnerable, children and the elderly, first.
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