A sudden outbreak of an illness or a disease is called a pandemic. It spreads rapidly and will quickly overtake the entire population. Epidemics are even worse. They will happen in entire regions. A good example of an epidemic would be the AIDS epidemic that swept through Africa.
Endemics are illnesses or diseases that are always present, however, few people become ill such as malaria which is prevalent in many regions of the world.
Out of the 3, pandemics are the most catastrophic and can lead to widespread illness and death if they’re not handled quickly and effectively.
According to the World Health Organization, a staging system has been developed on how pandemics start and then develop. It is broken down into the following sections:
Stage 1: The virus begins and starts circulating through animals. No one has yet reported the illness and it’s not yet spread to humans. Birds are very susceptible at spreading disease rapidly.
Stage 2: The virus is now being transmitted to humans and it’s rapidly becoming a pandemic threat. Sadly, no one is yet aware of this.
Stage 3: The virus is now affecting both animals and humans in small clusters around the region. Entire communities are falling ill and yet, no one realizes what is going on. Families are passing the condition on to one another and caregivers are beginning to fall ill as well.
Stage 4: The virus has now been confirmed as being transmitted via human to human contact. As more outbreaks are occurring there is momentum in the rapid spread of the condition and a huge risk of a pandemic has taken over. It’s now imperative to contain the diseased areas and while there isn’t quite yet a pandemic, there is a huge risk. Unfortunately, no one quite yet knows this could be a pandemic.
Stage 5: By now, there are several regions that have fallen ill. This is the prelude stage to the pandemic phase. It requires full communication to the World Health Organization and pandemic measures are about to be taken. Not everyone is yet aware of it but the situation is very serious.
Stage 6: By now, the condition has overtaken many areas. It is now called a pandemic. The virus is spreading rapidly and taking over entire communities. The pandemic has been confirmed and it’s spreading rapidly.
According to the World Health Organization, H1N1 which was an influenza virus in 2009, created such concerns that a pandemic was happening. By April of 2009, the World Health Organization had moved the status to stage 5. However, in June of 2009, they increased it to stage 6. It was the first pandemic since 1968. Thanks to rapid response and community outreach, the numbers decreased by November of the year 2009.
Sadly, before H1N1 ever hit, the Hong Kong Flu or the H3N2 virus caused thousands of people to die in 1968 and 1969. Hong Kong Flu was first discovered in 1968 and brought to the United States late in the same year. It killed approximately one million people worldwide.
In the middle ages, it was the Black Plague. This spread from China during the 19th century and it killed millions in India. The United States had some cases of the Black Plague in the 1900s in San Francisco. Today, there are still a few cases of the rare bubonic plague that are reported to the World Health Organization annually.
Asian Flu or H2N2 hit in 1957 and 1958 causing thousands to die. It began in China in February of 1957 and spread rapidly to the United States by June of that year. It seems every decade has its own version of such potentially pandemic viruses and diseases.
A scarier fact of pandemics is that they are at a high risk for being designed as a way to use biological warfare. My job in the military helped me to see how possible this truly is.
During the 1980s, there was allegedly an accident at a lab where some Chinese Scientists had developed a viral disease for such purposes. It was reported in 2009 and at that time an Al-Qaeda training camp near the Algerian region was completely annihilated by none other than the plague. It was determined that the group had developed biological warfare and were trying it out. Quite obviously, it worked as they annihilated an entire area.
When someone does something of this nature deliberately, it’s considered biological warfare. They use pathogens or even microorganisms to kill or incapacitate humans. Microorganisms are either a virus or they can reproduce in the victims and become contagious. This can spread the condition far and wide. Left unchecked, it can wipe out entire regions. Thankfully, toxins have a short shelf life. However, that doesn’t prevent them from spreading.
Having worked in the medical field for years, I’ve been heavily involved in administering the H1N1 vaccines in my region. I’ve also received it myself. The medical field exposes me to everything including AIDS, TB and more. However, there is always that one virus that could wipe you out.
I’m thankful for my healthy immune system. I see many patients who have compromised immune systems that are weakened further by other medical conditions. Due to lack of proper medical care and not eating a healthy diet can often be contributing factors. Environmental factors can also further complicate the condition. My one piece of advice is always to educate yourself about the diseases and viruses that are going around. Many take risks when they shouldn’t. It’s not worth it. Don’t take risks with your health. Learn how to prevent such conditions before it’s too late.
Simple things that anyone can do to protect themselves are as follows:
Always wash your hands with soap and water. Wash them for at least 30 seconds to one minute to ensure that hands are thoroughly clean. Use warm to hot water for this process and be sure to wash between fingers as well as wrists.
Always carry antiseptic wipes and use them. If you don’t have them, use a hand sanitizer that is alcohol based. Spread it liberally over the hands after any contact with someone you don’t know. This includes shaking hands and touching doorknobs or other surfaces.
Stay away from anyone who is sick if you’re out in public. Avoid crowds including concerts and movies.
Always cover your mouth and nose if you have a cough or if you sneeze. Throw this tissue away immediately to prevent spreading germs. Never use your hand to cough or sneeze into. Use your sleeve or your arm.
Remember, it’s not enough to just know these guidelines, you must follow them in order for them to be effective. If there is a virus or disease going around, you must take proper precautions and guard yourself.
The elderly, infants and anyone with a compromised immune system must be extra careful as they are far more vulnerable than any other population for becoming ill from such viruses and diseases.
As always, do not underestimate the unvisible danger that can turn into a disaster. Be smart, be prepared with Backpacks Backpacking.