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March 30, 2009

Globalisation & Diversity – week 6

What is a pandemic? List all of the major (global) pandemics that you can identify. What is the likelihood of a pandemic originating in your country?

A pandemic is a widespread disease, or a disease like symptom, (i.e., an epidemic) that occurs throughout a region or globally (Wordweb, 2008a), whereas an epidemic simultaneously affects or attacks a single community or population (Wordweb, 2008b).

“Epidemics and pandemics can place sudden and intense demands on health systems. They expose existing weaknesses in these systems and, in addition to their morbidity and mortality, can disrupt economic activity and development” (WHO, 2009a, ¶ 1).

Recent pandemics: 1st Cholera pandemic in 1871, 7th Cholera pandemic in 1961 (WHO, 2009b); Spanish flu in 1918 (UniNews, 2008); Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) 1981/83 (WHO, 2006).

Near pandemics: H5NI influenza A bird flu virus in 2003 (WHO, 2009c); Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 (WHO, 2009d).

The likelihood of a pandemic originating in Australia without vigilant “preparedness, rapid response and containment” (WHO, 2006e, ¶ 1), is possible. With increased international travel the risk of an influenza pandemic increases (UniNews, 2008); indicating that no country is entirely safe from being the origin of pandemic. However, since the SARS and Bird flu virus scares in 2003, Australia is now more prepared to combat an influenza epidemic (UniNews) which would therefore reduce the risk of at least an influenza pandemic originating from Australia.

References:

UniNews. (2008). Taking the panic out of pandemic. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from University of Melbourne Voice Vol. 3, No. 9

http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/news/5556/?menuLink=/uninews.php

WHO. (2006). The WHO Response to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/global_health_histories/seminars/presentation08.pdf

WHO. (2009a). Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response (EPR). Retrieved March 30, 2008, from World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/csr/en/

WHO. (2009b). Global epidemics and impact of cholera. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/topics/cholera/impact/en/

WHO. (2009c). Avian influenza frequently asked questions. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/avian_faqs/en/

WHO. (2009d). Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) – multi-country outbreak – Update. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/csr/don/2003_03_16/en/index.html

WordWeb. (2008a). pandemic. In WordWeb Online  database. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from http://www.wordwebonline.com/search.pl?w=pandemic

WordWeb. (2008b). epidemic. In WordWeb Online  database. Retrieved March 30, 2008, from http://www.wordwebonline.com/search.pl?w=epidemic

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