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Biology for Kids

Epidemics and Pandemics

What is an epidemic?

An epidemic is when an unusually large number of people in a community get a disease at the same time. Examples of epidemic diseases include typhus, influenza, the Black Death, malaria, and smallpox.

What causes an epidemic?

There are a number of events that can cause an epidemic. How does disease spread?

Disease can spread and be transmitted a number of ways including the following:
How do they end?

Even though epidemics can spread quickly and kill millions of people, they eventually do come to an end. There are different reasons why an epidemic may end: What is a pandemic?

A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread across a large region, typically across multiple continents or worldwide.

Six Stages of a Pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes six stages of a pandemic virus:
  1. The virus is found in animals, but not in humans.
  2. The virus has been found in humans.
  3. There are small clusters of the disease found, but it is not spreading rapidly.
  4. The virus is being passed from human-to-human and there are community outbreaks of the disease.
  5. The virus has spread to at least two countries. A full-fledged pandemic is imminent.
  6. The disease is now classified as a full-fledged pandemic.
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