Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
A pandemic is the spread of a highly infectious disease across a large area, such as a continent or worldwide. In the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, the microbial agent that causes a pandemic must be a new one, never before found in human beings, and spread easily and comfortably among humans. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and avian flu are among the most recent examples. Concern about these diseases has resulted in intense debates within the scientific community and various nation-states, as well as within international organizations such as WHO and in the media. WHO first identified the SARS microbe—the coronavirus—as a virus never before seen in humans in March 2003. SARS posed an immediate threat because the virus spread rapidly, either by droplets or by direct and indirect contact. The fear was that, at a time when people and things traveled from one point of the globe to ...