Epidemic / Pandemic


What's the difference between an epidemic and pandemic?

An epidemic is the rapid spread of a disease that affects some or many people in a community or region at the same time.  A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that affects large numbers of people throughout the world and spreads rapidly.

An influenza or flu pandemic happens when a new flu virus appears that easily spreads from person-to-person and around the world.  Because the virus is new, the human population has little to no immunity against it.  Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Additionally, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.  You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.

Experts cannot predict when the next flu pandemic may occur or how severe it will be, but there are several things you can do to prepare for a flu pandemic ─ explore the information below to learn more.