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ENVS 110- Module 15- Assignment: Disease & The Environment

Sep 9, 2023


Understand what epidemics and pandemics are.

Describe the differences between epidemics and pandemics.

Evaluate the origins of epidemics and pandemics.

Analyze and research human disease, transmission, and treatment that can and does result in a huge diversity of environmental impact.

Collect data on the various epidemics and pandemics over the course of the last 100 years.

Students will research information about the various epidemics and pandemics over the course of the last 100 years.

Students will write a paper research paper on the various epidemics and pandemics over the course of the last 100 years.

Module 15- Assignment: Disease & The Environment

Epidemic refers to a situation in which a disease suddenly increases within a particular population in a given time. On the other hand, the pandemic is a kind of epidemic that spread throughout the world. It is like that as human beings spread through the world, various infectious diseases also spread and lead to endemic as well as pandemic situations. A brief description of the epidemic, along with the pandemic of the last nearly hundred years, is presented below.

1. Spanish flu (1918-1920):

The Spanish flu, also known as the great influenza epidemic or Influenza Pandemic, was first introduced in the time of 1918. This was the first true global pandemic that spread in the modern medicine world. This disease is caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. The first documented case of this disease was in Kansas, United States. In spite of advances in public health and epidemiological status, the actual origin of this disease remains unknown. Typically, within one month, the deadly virus spread across the world. Several researchers confirmed that the mortality rate of this flu remained between the ranges of ten percent to twenty percent (Aassve et al. 2021, p. 842). The symptoms of this flu are sudden high fever with chills, dry cough, headache, sore throat, tiredness, runny nose, etc. Most of the people who had been diagnosed with this flu died of pneumonia and respiratory diseases. As this is a kind of infectious disease, isolation is the most effective preventive measure for this flu. Additionally, using a mask along with gloves also helps. This flu commonly targeted young individuals, and it involved the cytokines of the immune system of the individual. Estimates suggested that nearly 40 to 50 million individuals died of this flu. Report says that almost 10% of the population of the whole world is infected and the mortality rate is nearly 2-3% and then it increases to 33% of infection along with a death rate of almost 25%.

2. Asian flu (1957-1958):

The Asian flu of 1957 was another famous influenza outbreak throughout the world. This flu was categorized as a standard two outbreak of influenza. This flu was first introduced in China at the year of 1956, and after the invention of a vaccine for this in the year 1957, the spread of flu reduced, but a second wave came in 1958, and this time, it remained part of the normal life of individuals until 1968. After that, it is believed to go away from the human population forever. Asian flu is often known as the H2N2 strain of influenza. Common symptoms of Asian flu are fever and chills, weakness, anorexia, cough, body aches, etc. As Asian flu is commonly known as a strain of influenza, it is a form of respiratory illness with a sore throat, cough, and breathing problems. Complications of this flu include seizures, heart failure, pneumonia, etc. It was reported that the first case of Asian flu was reported in Guizhou, and then it spread to other places. The total number of deaths due to this disease is about two million.

3. Hong Kong Flu (1968-1970):

Hong Kong flu is one form of category two influenza, and it is also termed a pandemic. The causative agent of this disease is the H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus. This strain descended from the H2N2 strain by antigenic shift. It is a genetic procedure that leads to the reassertion of genes to create a new virus. The first case of Hong Kong flu was reported on July 1968. The common symptoms of this flu include fever and chills, sore throat, cough, headache, nausea, sometimes diarrhea, runny nose, etc. The symptoms typically last for four to six days; sometimes, it lasts for up to two weeks. About one million people died of this flu.

4. HIV /AIDS (1981-present day):

HIV/AIDS was first introduced in Central Africa in the year 1976 and recognized across the world in the year 1981. Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is a virus that attacks mainly the immune system of the body. This disease typically can spread through sharing needles, sexual contact with the baby from the mother during pregnancy or at the time of childbirth, contact with infected blood, etc. HIV acts upon white blood cells and destroys CD4 T cells, which play a significant role in the immune system of our body (Lu et al. 2018, p.18). Using drug injections, having unprotected sex, and having STIs can increase the risk of getting HIV infection. After being infected by HIV, one can have common symptoms like fever, chills, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, etc. Until now, about 25 to 35 million people died of HIV.

5. Swine Flu (2009-2010):

Swine flu, or the H1N1 virus, was first introduced in the year of 2009, and in no time, it became a pandemic. This disease is caused by a virus from both birds and pigs and can cause infection in humans. It gets its name as it results in respiratory infection, which pigs also can have. In 2009 and 2010, many people got infected by this flu; hence in 2009, the WHO proposed Swine flu as a pandemic. Typical symptoms of H1N1 swine flu include irregular fever with chills, stuffy nose, dry cough, pharyngitis, red and watery eyes, diarrhea, body aches, tiredness, vomiting, etc. With time, it can cause severe respiratory problems, chest pain, muscle pain, seizures, etc. The causative agent, the H1N1 influenza virus, attacks the cells that line the nose, throat, and lungs. The first case was identified in the United States at the year 2009, and then it spread quickly throughout the world. About 20,000 people died because of this disease.

6. SARS (2002-2003):

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a kind of contagious illness that can be fatal respiratory illness. The first reported case of SARS was in 2002 in China. It spreads throughout the world within just a few months. Common symptoms of SARS are high fever along with dry cough and difficulty breathing, etc. The causative agent of this disease is a strain of coronavirus that belongs to a similar family that can cause the common cold. SARS is considered a serious disease that may lead to death if left untreated. It transfers through the droplet of the air, which enters the air when an infected individual sneezes, coughs, or talks (Li, Bai & Hashikawa, 2020, p.853). It mainly transfers through close physical contact. Hence, one should always be cautious when caring for an individual who is infected by SARS. Complication associated with this illness is a respiratory illness, shortness of breath, pneumonia, etc. Frequently washing hands, maintaining a safe distance, and maintaining personal hygiene are some of the effective preventive measures against SARS.

7. Ebola (2014-2016):

Ebola is a viral infection that can be described as a hemorrhagic fever. This is a rare but deadly disease. There is a total of five strains of Ebola, four of which can affect ill humans. The first reported case of the Ebola virus was in Africa, and from then, the mortality rate increased from twenty-five to ninety percent. However, Ebola is not as contagious as another common viruses like influenza (Jacob et al. 2020, p.20). This disease transfers to humans through close contact with skin, body fluids, or infected individuals. After being exposed to the virus, one can show the symptoms of Ebola within twenty days. Symptoms of Ebola include a high fever, joint pain, headache, weakness, pain in the stomach, pharyngitis, bleeding, nausea, loss of appetite, etc. Multi-organ failure, coma, lack of oxygen in the body, and septic shock are some of the complications associated with this illness. Nearly eleven thousand people died now due to this illness across the whole world. A graphical representation is shown below which confirmed cases by three age groups indicating 0-14 years in the color blue, 15-44 years in orange color, and grey color represents 45 years to older people.

8. MERS (2012-present date):

MERS, or middle east respiratory syndrome, refers to a viral infection that was first reported in Saudi Arabia. This infection is caused by the middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV virus. Although the causative agent of MERS and COVID-19 belongs to the same family, these two diseases are not the same. This disease was first identified in the year 2012, and since then, it has spread across the world. Until now, it has caused nearly 900 deaths and 2550 cases throughout the world. In the United States, the rate of MERS is low. This disease can transfer from human to human through close contact. Some common signs and symptoms of this disease are fever, difficulty breathing, cough, nausea, gastrointestinal issues, etc. Signs and symptoms generally appear within five to six days of exposure to this virus. Pneumonia, along with some respiratory illnesses, is the common complication of this disease. Older people, individuals with weak immune systems, with chronic illnesses are at risk of getting MERS. The report says about 35 percent of people died who MERS.

9. Covid-19 (2019-present date):

Covid-19 is a famous illness in the present day throughout the world. It is an infectious illness, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This virus gets its name corona as they have crown-shaped spikes on the outer surface of its body. The first reported case of this strain was in China in 2019. Within no time, it spreads across the world and makes people’s lives miserable. This virus can enter the body across the eyes, nose, and mouth from airborne droplets, or even it can be transferred by hand through close contact. Isolation, wearing a mask, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet, and proper washing of hands with effective soaps are some of the preventive measures against Covid-19 (Tufan, A., Güler, A. A., & Matucci-Cerinic, M. 2020, p. 622). The most common symptoms of this disease are fever with chills, loss of taste and smell, cough, weakness, headaches, difficulty breathing, runny nose, vomiting, sore throat, etc. Symptoms generally appear within 14 days of exposure. According to reports, nearly 6.6 million died of Covid-19 to date.


Aassve, A., Alfani, G., Gandolfi, F., & Le Moglie, M. (2021). Epidemics and trust: The case of the Spanish Flu. Health economics, 30(4), 840-857.

Jacob, S. T., Crozier, I., Fischer, W. A., Hewlett, A., Kraft, C. S., Vega, M. A. D. L., … & Kuhn, J. H. (2020). Ebola virus disease. Nature reviews Disease primers, 6(1), 1-31.

Li, Y. C., Bai, W. Z., & Hashikawa, T. (2020). The neuroinvasive potential of SARS‐CoV2 may play a role in the respiratory failure of COVID‐19 patients. Journal of Medical Virology,, 92(6), 552-555.

Lu, D. Y., Wu, H. Y., Yarla, N. S., Xu, B., Ding, J., & Lu, T. R. (2018). HAART in HIV/AIDS treatments: future trends. Infectious Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-Infectious Disorders), 18(1), 15-22.

Tufan, A., Güler, A. A., & Matucci-Cerinic, M. (2020). COVID-19, immune system response, hyperinflammation, and repurposing antirheumatic drugs. Turkish journal of medical sciences, 50(9), 620-632.

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