What do we have to know about them?
The term epidemic has been used and is used by media all the time, very often, without having substantial evidence to claim that there is an epidemic. Fortunately, epidemics do not occur as easily and as often as media claim. In reality, an epidemic is present when a disease infects rapidly many people. That does not mean that the disease must be lethal or must damage the health severely. Moreover, it is not necessary that the disease is contagious although this is normally the case. For example, there is an obesity epidemic. There are epidemics of flu, AIDS, Ebola and other diseases, including plague in the past. Plague was the reason for millions of deaths in the Medieval Ages with a mortality rate of more than 40 % and often, more than 90 %!
On the other hand, a pandemic is a private case of an epidemic of a contagious disease. This could be very dangerous if diseases have a high mortality rate. Most people think that a disease appears overnight and starts infecting people immediately. Luckily, this is not true. AIDS was discovered in the early 80s but the disease has its roots more than 50 years before that in Africa. Ebola was discovered in 1976 and yet, it became an international epidemic last year. Ebola also needed many years until it evolved into a deadly virus. Another problem is that science cannot determine what triggers the disease and it cannot determine the Patient X – the first victim of the disease. If it was possible to identify and isolate the victim, then, the breakout could be stopped.
Compared to the pandemics in the past, current pandemics seem to cause less damage and to be controlled better by the World Health Organization. Even so, the continuing problems with AIDS and recently, with Ebola show that humanity should be more careful and do more to prevent pandemic breakouts. In fact, some scientists state that the dinosaurs disappeared so suddenly due to a pandemic that killed almost all of them in a very short time and do not attribute their disappearance to a meteor crash. As we see the damages could be severe. It is high time that world leaders started working better together because an epidemic in one country could very easily transfer to another and is not bound by national borders.
The conference gives up-to-date information for topics such as control and prevention of epidemics, identification of epidemics, co-operation with international partners but also general information for global epidemics which everyone should know. It will give also good opportunities to learn from and have discussions with leading experts in the field of epidemiology.
To address the issue WBA will hold a conference that is open to participants (individuals and organizations) from across the globe.