Pandemics and Security

Authored by: Yanzhong Huang

Routledge Handbook of Global Health Security

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415645478
eBook ISBN: 9780203078563
Adobe ISBN: 9781136155574


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Infectious disease has influenced world history more deeply and profoundly than most of us would imagine (McNeill 1976; Sherman 2007); its impact is usually maximized in a pandemic – a worldwide spread of a new disease. The term pandemic is derived from the combination of Greek word pan – meaning “all” – and demos – meaning “people.” The 1918 “Spanish Flu,” which killed up to 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States (Crosby 2003), certainly qualifies as a pandemic. At the beginning of the 21st century, the spread of SARS and H5N1 avian flu highlighted the potentially devastating impact of pandemics. In 2009, a new strain of H1N1 virus began to quickly spread to all regions of the world, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to pronounce the virus a full-blown pandemic on June 11. By August 2010, most countries had been hit by the virus, which led to more than 18,000 laboratory-confirmed fatalities worldwide (WHO 2010b). While the pandemic eventually burned out, the subsequent rise of other lethal viral strains, including H7N9 avian flu and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), have again sparked fears of a new pandemic (Builder & Garrett 2013; Chan 2013).

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