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What is a Pandemic?
A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of a highly contagious illness. The worldwide scope and the rapid spread of the disease are what make a pandemic such a crises.
Historically major pandemics come in one hundred year cycles. During the twentieth century there were the typical three pandemic influenza outbreaks. In 1918 we experienced a violent outbreak of Spanish Influenza, then again in 1958 and finally in 1968 we experienced two milder pandemics. So, many scientists believe we are ripe for another full scale pandemic within the next ten years.
When a pandemic strikes, it has a very predictable pattern. First, a new illness comes on the scene – often it takes hold of a species of animal. This new illness increases rapidly to epidemic proportions in its host species. Next it mutates causing it to spread from its host species to another, diverse species. With time it mutates again and infects even more species of animals. At some point in the process, this new illness is introduced to humans – usually in isolated incidents where humans have regular contact with the infected species. The first introductions to humans give us some idea of it virulence, but it has not yet mutated for person-to-person spread – this is yet to come. This is now the critical point and sociologists and immunologists spend much time tracking the progress of the disease, seeking to isolate it and destroy it before it can spread. Once it mutates for person-to-person spread, the virulence and socio-economic conditions of the area determine the violence of its pandemic form.
Scientists observe many influenza viruses as they make their appearance and mutate multiple times. Often these influenza strains have mild effects once they morph for human-to-human spread. These often become the nuisance flu's we face each winter season. About three times in every one hundred year cycle, however, these new influenza viruses morph into killers of pandemic proportion.
When pandemic strikes, it often comes in three distinct waves of outbreak. The first year (Dec.-Mar.) there is a violent outbreak but it dies down quickly with the end of the cold season. The second wave arrives earlier in the following autumn and lasts longer (Sept.-May) with devastating consequences. The highest death tolls are during this second wave. Finally, the third wave arrives in early fall (Sept-?) and is moderately spotty, eventually dying out altogether, Thus its three waves of epidemic influence spread out from December of one year to approximately December two years later.
Some of the reasons why pandemic influenza is so devastating are:
Copyright 2006 Mrs. C.
This is an informational site. We cannot take responsability for what you do with the information contained here. This website contains medical research findings that I use to help me and my doctor make wise choices for my family. I share it here for your instruction. You the reader must take full responsibility for your own health and how you use this research. I expressly disclaim any responsibility for effects - good or bad - resulting from your use of this information. I recommend that you consult with your health care provider before implementing any programs or therapies found herein.