What Starts Epidemics?

What are the conditions that would lead to a major epidemic?

Conditions include:

  • Presence of the animal or insect vectors, whatever they may be, in proximity to a human population .
  • Exposure of even a single infected human to others, by traveling from a remote setting, to a population center after exposure to a vector and/or reservoir in that remote setting.
  • Deficient sanitation and hygiene among the population (lack of clean water supplies, sewage disposal & treatment, etc.) which increases the chance of bodily fluid contact (e.g., contact with fresh sewage containing wastes from Ebola victims).
  • Decreased immune response in members of the population, whether from malnutrition or other disease burdens, especially AIDS.
  • Social customs which increase bodily fluid contact between people (e.g., burial customs, multiple-partner sex).
  • Inadequate public health infrastructure (hospitals, staff, equipment - e.g., enough syringes to prevent their re-use, isolation facilities, barrier supplies).
  • Lack of awareness of the disease and its symptoms among the population.
  • Access to transportation systems.
  • Poor communications infrastructure, resulting in delays in medical response and public notification & education.
  • The mutation of Ebola so that a strain that is dangerous to humans becomes airborne.
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