A pandemic is an epidemic occurring on a scale which crosses international boundaries, usually affecting a large number of people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a six-stage classification that describes the process by which a novel influenza virus moves from the first few infections in humans through to a pandemic. This starts with the virus mostly infecting animals, with a few cases where animals infect people, then moves through the stage where the virus begins to spread directly between people, and ends with a pandemic when infections from the new virus have spread worldwide and it will be out of control until we stop it.
while we immediately think of outbreaks like the Great Plague as pandemics, there have been some significant cases in recent years of pandemics that caused devastation worldwide.
- The “Spanish flu”, 1918–1919. First identified early in March 1918 in US troops training at Camp Funston, Kansas. By October 1918, it had spread to become a worldwide pandemic on all continents, and eventually infected about one-third of the world’s population (or ≈500 million persons). Unusually deadly and virulent, it ended nearly as quickly as it began, vanishing completely within 18 months. In six months, some 50 million were dead; some estimates put the total of those killed worldwide at over twice that number. About 17 million died in India, 675,000 in the United States and 200,000 in the UK. The virus was recently reconstructed by scientists at the CDC studying remains preserved by the Alaskan permafrost. The H1N1 virus has a small, but crucial structure that is similar to the Spanish Flu.
- The “Asian Flu”, 1957–58. An H2N2 virus caused about 70,000 deaths in the United States. First identified in China in late February 1957, the Asian flu spread to the United States by June 1957. It caused about 2 million deaths globally.
- The “Hong Kong Flu”, 1968–69. An H3N2 caused about 34,000 deaths in the United States. This virus was first detected in Hong Kong in early 1968, and spread to the United States later that year. This pandemic of 1968 and 1969 killed approximately one million people worldwide.
. Influenza A (H3N2) viruses still circulate today.
Makes you want to really scrub your hands doesn’t it?
While we can’t claim that our products and services will prevent the next pandemic, good hygiene practices and a scheduled maintenance system within your commercial environment will go a long way to maintaining a good level of protection against the many bacteria present in most environments.