Endemic, epidemic, pandemic: Back to main immune system page

Endemic: a disease that exists permanently in a particular region or population. Malaria is a constant worry in parts of Africa.

Epidemic: An outbreak of disease that attacks many peoples at about the same time and may spread through one or several communities.

Pandemic: When an epidemic spreads throughout the world.


Infectious diseases: Diseases that you can catch. They are communicable. Example: colds, influenza, measles, mumps, tuberculosis, pneumonia, smallpox... ** Beware of the super- strains of TB and pneumonia!

Noninfectious diseases: Asthma, Cancer, and Arthritis, etc.

Ways diseases are spread:

People: Droplet infection (coughing, sneezing), direct contact (kissing), indirect contact.     

Animals: Fleas and rats spread the bubonic plague in 1348. 1/3 Europe died! (An estimated 20 million people died) Mosquitoes in Africa and Latin America spread malaria. Ticks spread Lyme disease. Ducks and pigs can carry flu viruses.

Nonliving sources: Disease can be transmitted in contaminated food and water. For instance, salmonella can be found in meat. Hazardous chemicals can cause cancers.

Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796 used cowpox to vaccinate against smallpox. Cowpox was used to vaccinate against Smallpox. He got the idea by observing that milkmaids often suffered from cowpox but rarely suffered from smallpox. It occurred to him that cowpox prevented milkmaids from catching smallpox.

Latin word: vacca = cow

Vaccinia = cow pox

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