Epidemics and Pandemics

An epidemic is a situation where people in large numbers get some kind of disease at the same time.

A pandemic is when an epidemic spread across a large region and sometimes the disease spreads even worldwide.

There are many different epidemic diseases and events that can cause an epidemic to occur such as infected food and water, a stronger germ, new diseases, and even natural disasters can cause an epidemic to occur.

When the epidemic is not stopped, that is when it becomes a pandemic.


There are different diseases that have been classified as epidemic diseases such as smallpox, influenza, malaria and more.

These diseases spread quickly and caused many people to get sick at the same time with the disease.

Causes of Epidemics

Certain events and situations can cause epidemics to happen. One of the problems is when food and water become infected.

If an areas water supply or food supply gets infected, the people in that area can become sick and this can cause an epidemic to happen.

A strong germ can cause the spread of an epidemic. Sometimes germs that are strong can infect people easier and when this happens, it can make many people in the same area sick.

Spreading of the germ can happen and can cause an epidemic to happen even faster.

When new diseases occur, people oftentimes do not have vaccines or medication to fight the disease.

When this happen, people that have been exposed to the disease can quickly become ill and this can cause an epidemic to take

place. When smallpox became a new disease, many Americans were killed because the smallpox disease was unknown.

People that do not have good nutrition or people in poor communities can sometimes have lower resistance to diseases.

When this happens, an epidemic can occur in these communities.

Wars and natural disasters can cause epidemics because these types of things bring in new diseases and it can cause people to have lower immune systems.

How Do Epidemics Happen?

Disease can be easily spread. If food and water become infected with a disease, this type of disease can spread quickly because people oftentimes do not know that there is disease in the water before it is too late.

Infection also can spread through the air. When people sneeze or cough in public, it can cause germs to spread and this can lead to an epidemic.

Insects are another way that germs are spread. When people are bitten and then the same bug bites another person, the disease can spread quickly.

How to Fight Epidemics

Epidemics can kill many people quickly, but they do eventually end. Sometimes an epidemic will end because the germ dies due to the season.

The flu for example, is oftentimes seen in the winter and not the summer months. When the summer gets hot, the heat sometimes kills out the germ.

People, animals or insects that carry diseases are called carriers. When the carriers die down or become inactive, the epidemic can come to a stop.

A great example of this is malaria. When the mosquitos become inactive because of the cold weather, they stop spreading the diseases and the epidemic comes to a halt.

Those that have the disease are called a host. When a host gets a disease, they either die or they fight the disease off.

When this happens, fewer hosts are attacked and this slows down the epidemic or stops it completely.


A pandemic happens when diseases spread worldwide. There are six different stages of a pandemic:

  • The virus starts in animals and not humans
  • The virus is then found in humans.
  • Small areas have the disease, but it is slowly spreading.
  • The virus begins spreading person to person and communities get epidemics of the disease.
  • The virus spreads to two or more countries.
  • The disease is now a full pandemic.

Facts About Epidemics and Pandemics

  • Vaccines can help stop epidemics.
  • Pandemics only happen when the virus spreads to different parts of the world.
  • Epidemics can happen in different places at one time and still not be a pandemic.
  • Washing hands can help stop epidemics.
  • An epidemic is not the end of the world.

What Did You Learn?

  • When a large amount of people in one area get a disease, what is that called? An epidemic happens when a large amount of people in one area get a disease.
  • Can an insect cause an epidemic? Yes, an insect can cause an epidemic. An example of this is the mosquito that caused malaria.
  • What is a pandemic? A pandemic is when a disease spreads over a large region such as in other countries.
  • How many stages are there before an epidemic can become a pandemic? There are six stages that an epidemic must go through before it becomes a pandemic.
  • What are some causes of epidemics? Infected drinking water, new diseases, stronger germs and bad nutrition all can cause there to be an epidemic.