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Introduction to Pandemics


Preparing for power outages, floods, or even social collapse is all relatively easy and straightforward because you can see what's going on around you and plan accordingly. What about the unseen enemy that could be lurking right under you nose, that is silent and invisible? How to you protect yourself against disease and pandemic?

Now is the time to be ready for those hidden menaces. Whether is comes in the form of a global pandemic, or just a local outbreak that threatens your family, there is always the possibility for danger from contagious diseases.

Since the overall scope of this book is the threat of pandemic, we'll stick to those scenarios for the most part.

Epidemic or Pandemic

Firstly, let's get some terminology out of the way. For anyone not familiar with world of disease, it's easy to confuse the two terms or just to assume they mean the same thing. If you're following a situation in the news, it's helpful to know the difference.

An epidemic is a localized outbreak of a disease that is normally not prevalent in that area. On the other hand, a pandemic is also a disease outbreak but over a much larger area. The term is usually reserved for events that span a country or have spread across several nations. The exact point when an epidemic becomes a pandemic isn't set in stone, and news outlets like to say "pandemic" just to make stories sound more dire.

The History of Pandemic

The idea that a disease can spread across continents may seem like a far-fetched notion that comes from a movie, but it is a very real potential threat. It's happened several times in history. If you think that disease simply can't spread that far, think again.

There were 2 major pandemics in the past that perfectly illustrate how far and wide a deadly disease can travel.

The first is the Black Death of the 14th century. While it's easy to discount it as irrelevant today because their medieval knowledge of medicine and hygiene were so limited, it's still worth a mention. The actual disease was the bubonic plague, which is actually around today though in much less frequent outbreaks. Between 1347 and 1351, the disease spread across Europe and killed an estimated 75 to 200 million people. Plague spread from infected flea or rat bites, and given the cleanliness of the Middle Ages, it's no surprise that flea bites were commonplace. It's important to note

though, that even diseases that don't spread directly from person to person can become pandemic.

In more recent times, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 is another well-known example of how disease can travel quickly. It was a particularly deadly form of the flu (specifically an H1N1 variant, or swine flu), and it literally circled the globe over the course of only 2 years. Given that air travel was very limited at this point of history, that's quite a feat. During its run, between 50 and 100 million people were killed, and more than 500 million people were infected. Like all other forms of the flu, is easily spread through fluid contact in droplets from coughing or sneezing.

And you can't really discuss pandemics in modern times without mentioning AIDS. Though it is the most modern mass epidemic, the nature of the disease is not quite the same as the others. It is not contagious in the same manner as the usual epidemic culprits (typically unprotected sex or sharing of needles). And yet, AIDS has killed more than 30 million people over it's 30-year history. Unlike the other major pandemics, this one is still active. There are estimated to be more than 35 million people currently living with either HIV or full-blown AIDS. Clearly, this is a pandemic that is still on the go.

Now that we have your attention about how serious this can be, it's time to get ready.

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