Epidemiology: Endemic and Pandemic

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and dynamics of disease as it affects large groups of people. Studying disease on the population level is somewhat like trying to solve a large and complicated puzzle, a puzzle that's deadly serious.

Disease: Scope and Statistic
The first question on epidemiologist is likely to ask about a disease is:"How widespread is it?" It may the important to know, for example, whether or not the disease has reached epidemic proportions. An epidemic is said to occur when a disease affect a larger number of people in a certain area that experts would have expected on the basis of previous experience. An epidemic that spreads over huge areas, affecting an entire country or continent, is called pandemic. Diseases that usually occur in just one area as considered endemic to that area. Cholera, for example was endemic to parts of Indonesia for years, but became pandemic when it spread the entire country in 1961.

Next the epidemiologist may need to look at specific statistic that describe heatlh experiences of the population under study, such as:
  1. Mortality rates, the number of death occuring in a given population in a given time period.
  2. Morbidity or incidence rates, the number of new cases diagnosed in those susceptible among a given population.
  3. Life expectancy, the average life span of a person living in a specific population.
  4. Infant mortality, the number of infant who die before age one as a proportion of all live births in the same time period.
  5. Maternal mortality, the number of pregnancy related deaths that occur before, during, and immediately after childbirth among all women aged fifteen to forty four.
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