Disaster Planning: Epidemics & Pandemics

Epidemics & Pandemics


Epidemics & Pandemics

Epidemics and pandemics have occurred throughout history, wiping out hundreds of millions of people over the past few millenniums. Even though there have been huge leaps in medical and scientific technologies, either an epidemic or a pandemic can occur at anytime.

In the present day, we might think that we’re invincible. We’re not. A simple glance through the history books should provide real evidence that the next pandemic might be right around the corner.

Click here to learn more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak.


What’s the Difference Between an Epidemic and a Pandemic?

Many people are wondering what the differences are between an epidemic and a pandemic. They can be used interchangeably by the media at times but there are differences.

An epidemic is a situation in which a disease is actively spreading in a community, city, or state. Typically, an outbreak is referred to as an epidemic if the disease spreads to a large number of people in a short period of time (two weeks or less). For example, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 is considered an epidemic because it was largely confined to West Africa.

By contrast, a pandemic describes a disease that spreads across a great distances, either over numerous towns and cities or even countries and continents. An example of a pandemic is the 1918 Spanish Flu that spread across the world.



Historical Epidemics

Epidemics have ravaged human civilizations for thousands of years with varying degrees of lethality. Below is a chart of some of the epidemics that have occurred.

Epidemic NameLocationDeath Toll (approximate)Dates (approximate)Speculated Disease
Cocoliztli EpidemicMexico5-15 million deaths1545-1548Salmonella
Antonine PlagueRoman Empire5-10 million deaths165-180 CESmallpox
Mexican Smallpox EpidemicMexico5-8 million deaths1520Smallpox
Japanese Smallpox EpidemicJapan2 million deaths735-737 CESmallpox
Italian PlagueItaly280,000 deaths1629-1631Plague
Great Plague of MarseilleFrance> 100,000 deaths1720-1722Plague
Great Plague of LondonEngland100,000 deaths1665-1666Plague
Plague of AthensGreece75,000-100,000 deaths429-426 BCETyphoid Fever, Typhus, or Hemorrhagic Fever
Caragea's PlagueRomania60,000 deaths1813Plague
Fiji Measles OutbreakFiji40,000 deaths1875Measles
Typhus EpidemicCanada> 20,000 deaths1847-1848Typhus
Cholera Epidemic of CopenhagenDenmark4,737 deaths1853Cholera
Zimbabwean Cholera OutbreakZimbabwe4,293 deaths2008-2009Cholera
Yemen Cholera OutbreakYemen3,886 deaths2016-2020Cholera
Kivu Ebola EpidemicDemocratic Republic of the Congo & Uganda2,253 deaths2018-2020Ebola
London FluUnited States1,027 deaths1972-1973Influenza (H3N2)


Historical Pandemics

Pandemics tend to be much deadlier than epidemics simply because they have continent-wide or worldwide effects, allowing the infection to spread across many more people.

Pandemic NameLocationDeath Toll (approximate)Dates (approximate)Speculated Disease
Black DeathEurope, Asia, and North America50-200 million deaths1331-1353Bubonic Plague
Spanish Flu PandemicWorldwide100 million deaths1918-1920Influenza (H1N1)
Plague of JustinianEurope and West Asia100 million deaths541-542 CEBubonic Plague
Third Pandemic PlagueWorldwide> 22 million deaths1855-1960Bubonic Plague
Encephalitis PandemicWorldwide1.5 million deahs1915-1926Encephalitis Lethargica
Hong Kong FluWorldwide1 million deaths1968-1969Influenza (H3N2)
Flu PandemicWorldwide1 million deaths1889-1890Influenza
Coronavirus (COVID-19)Worldwide851,512+ deaths (as of August 31, 2020)2019-presentCoronavirus Disease 2019
Sixth Cholera PandemicEurope, Asia, and Africa> 800,000 deaths1899-1923Cholera
Swine FluWorldwide150,000-575,000 deaths2009H1N1/09 virus
First Cholera PandemicEurope and Asia> 100,000 deaths1816-1826Cholera
Second Cholera PandemicEurope, Asia, and North America> 100,000 deaths1829-1851Cholera
Sweating SicknessEurope> 10,000 deaths1485-1551Hantavirus
MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)Asia862 deaths2012-2020MERS
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)Worldwide772 deaths2002-2004SARS
Zika VirusWorldwide53 deaths2015-2016Zika Virus


Is YOUR Family Prepared for the Next Epidemic or Pandemic?

The next epidemic or pandemic can strike anywhere and anytime. It’s important that you have a disaster epidemic or pandemic kit as well as a plan to keep you and your family safe. Click here to see an Epidemic or Pandemic Home Safety Kit Checklist.


error: Thank you for visiting