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Despite modern civilization’s advances in medicine and high technology, global outbreaks of disease can still occur. Although the word “pandemic” has a frightening ring, it’s important to understand that an individual’s personal risk may typically not be very high in most such situations, even if media reports are concerning and even if a major disruption is ongoing. House Call Doctor Los Angeles suggests remaining calm and staying on top of the latest information, government directives, and advice from experts and local authorities if a major outbreak occurs. Below is some information that might help you make sense of what doctors, experts, and others are saying.

Pandemics and Epidemics – What’s the difference?

An epidemic is described as an outbreak of disease that rapidly spreads to infect a large number of people. In most cases, an epidemic will usually see the majority of its cases occur within a set location or region. For example, the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS killed upwards of 800 people and infected thousands, most of whom lived in China.

A pandemic, on the other hand, occurs when the outbreak of disease is global, usually with multiple locations serving as major centers for disease transmission. One of the more infamous pandemics in human history occurred roughly 100 years ago. The 1918 outbreak of H1N1 influenza, commonly referred to as Spanish flu (which had no particular connection to Spain), killed between 40-50 million people and infected almost a third of the global population. The disease spread quickly and widely due to the birth of air and automotive travel, World War I, and the living conditions that went with it. What made the disease especially frightening was that, unlike nearly all other influenza viruses which are dangerous mainly to the elderly and infirm, it seemed to be most deadly to seemingly healthy younger people, who were already being decimated by the war. Fortunately, today’s medical techniques, better communications, superior hygiene, and numerous other factors, make such a public health catastrophe unlikely today.

What do I do if a pandemic occurs?

In the event of a pandemic, it is likely that restrictions on travel and other areas of daily life will be put into place. It is important to stay up to date on information dispensed by legitimate sources while recognizing the difference between factual and questionable information. Social media memes and similar dubious sources should be ignored in favor of major media, including local radio and television stations as well as local newspapers online. Local and national governing bodies are likely to play an active role in quarantine rules and, if needed, rationing efforts while also ensuring travel restrictions are enforced.

Whatever the situation, it is crucial not to spread panic by sharing false information. You should rely on reliable media sources but be aware that, especially when events are developing rapidly, reputable and well-intentioned reporters may still get information wrong. A healthy dose of skepticism about anything which sounds excessive or too good to be true is always a good idea.

On a personal level, recognize when you are sick and follow guidelines from local government and healthcare providers. These are crucial both for your own safety and to help limit disease transmission in your community. You may be asked to work from home, especially if you feel under the weather, or shelter in place for a time. Having some nonperishable food in place may be helpful.

Finally, practice self-care by allowing yourself to relax and don’t be afraid to distract yourself by watching non-news television or reading. If you are housebound, you might as well make the most of it. However, if you are feeling excessively stressed, anxious, or depressed reach out to friends and loved ones as well as any professional therapists who may be available if needed.

Getting healthcare in a pandemic; can a house call doctor help?

In the event of an actual pandemic, it is likely that the relevant institutions will provide guidelines for all healthcare providers, including our practice, in the United States. Obtaining urgent care may become complicated and it may be unwise or prohibited to venture out into a clinic or emergency room unless you are suffering from an extremely serious condition.

Of course, pandemics are fortunately very rare and the situation is always fluid before, during, and after emergencies of all types. Moreover, if you are sick in the midst of concerning news relating to outbreaks, being able to get medical care at home may be more beneficial than ever. Regardless of events, feel free to reach out to Dr. Farzam and House Call Doctor Los Angeles any time by calling the number on your screen or visiting our contact page.