A epidemic is a disease that spreads over a certain period of weather in a given geographical area and affecting many people simultaneously. It is a notion used by community health to refer to the fact that the disease reaches a number of people higher than expected.
This implies the existence of incidence levels what are considered normal for a disease. A certain number of affected, therefore, is expected by the specialists for a given moment. When the number of patients exceeds that average, they speak of epidemic (There is a greater number of cases compared to the expected cases).
The scientific discipline that is responsible for the analysis of epidemics is known as epidemiology. Epidemiologists are dedicated to studying the distribution, frequency, and determinants of disease-related factors in a human community. Epidemiology, therefore, combines notions of the medicine with principles of social Sciences to help control disease and predict possible epidemiological outbreaks.
When the epidemic spreads across several countries, it becomes a pandemic. The etymological origin of this word means “Disease of all the people”. The pandemic usually occurs before the appearance of a new virus (for which there is no type of immunity).
On the other hand, when the epidemic is maintained in the same area for a long period of time, it becomes a endemic. This is the case of the malaria in several African countries.
Pandemics throughout history
Throughout history there have been many tragedies as a consequence of the poor organization of societies. Without going any further, in the last 200 years, millions of people have died from different plagues that have not been able to control in time. Among the five most important epidemics of these years are:
* Plague of the Peloponnesian WarIt took place in Athens in 430 BC and claimed the lives of around 30 thousand inhabitants. Was the First Pandemic of which there was a record.
* The plague Antonina: it was expanded through a group of Roman soldiers in this town in 165 AD. Around 5 thousand people died, among whom was the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Subsequently, the number increased to 5 million, as it became the great Smallpox pandemic that hit this country.
* The Plague of Justinian: it was the first major expansion of bubonic plague and it took place between 541 and 542 AD among the inhabitants of Constantinople. It took the lives of more than 10,000 people. Today it is estimated that the bubonic plague over the years has killed a total of 200 million people.
* The Black Plague: believed to have been transmitted by nomadic merchants coming from India to many countries. It took place in the 14th century and killed 25 million people (a quarter of the world’s population).
* The Spanish Flu: It consisted of a rare version of the Influenza virus. It became known as «La Cucaracha», it took place in 1918 (at end World War I) and was suffered by 1 billion people throughout the globe.
It is important to note in conclusion that the governments of the different countries fear to give the warning signal to these catastrophes for fear of alarm the population. However, this measure only contributes to making these situations more risky, since people (because they are uninformed) do not act preventively.