The Ebola virus was first identified in remote villages in Central Africa in Sudan and Zaire nearly forty years ago in 19 The Ebola virus was first identified in remote villages in Central Africa in Sudan and Zaire nearly forty years ago in 1976. Between 1976 and 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) documented 2,387 cases (restrained to Africa only) and about half have died. Of course, in the last two years that number has now climbed to over 10,000 cases. On October 23, WHO convened a crisis meeting to figure out how get the two vaccines now in development, through clinical trials, and developed at an “accelerated pace.”
An epidemic involves a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease in one community all in a particular time period. A pandemic, on the other hand, means (from the Greek) “pertaining to all people.” A pandemic, then, is an outbreak in a wide area or global sphere. Pandemics in history have included notorious outbreaks, including the Black Death and Bubonic Plagues that devastated Europe in the 1300s and 1800s. There have been extensive outbreaks of Cholera and Influenza. The Spanish Flu was responsible for millions of deaths in 1918, 1919 and 1920. (Read local author, and past library trustee, Patti Fanning’s account in “Influenza and Inequality,” published in 2010 in which she discusses how that epidemic affected our Norwood community.) In just three years, the Spanish Flu affected 500 million people worldwide and killed 50-100 million of them.