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A Little Germy History

Have there been pandemics in the past? Oh, yes! Some germs are a lot like tourists—they love to travel! Take a germ that usually sleeps deep in the rainforest. Let it get stuck on the sole of the boot of an anthropologist. Then let this person hop on an airplane and fly halfway around the world. A new germ in a new place. This would be a germ that people may have no immunity to. If you get infected by that germ, you may get very sick. If the disease spreads, well, you could end up with a pandemic.

Talk about a lesson in current events: In 2020 (perhaps even earlier) a real, live PANDEMIC showed up at America’s front door! While we may never know exactly how it got here, or where the first case occurred, one thing was certain: it was here to stay! The first cases in the United States most likely:

  • came to New York City with passengers aboard international flights, or cruise ships from other countries.

  • came to California, perhaps the same way, and infected an individual, and later a lot of elderly people in a nursing home.

Even while doctors, the government, hospitals, governors, and others were trying to figure out what was happening and what best to do about it, the infection spread rapidly and the number of cases increased. Pretty soon, hospitals in some places (especially New York City) were filling up their emergency rooms and ICUs (Intensive Care Units) with those infected with COVID-19. Many of these patients died.

Is this how most pandemics start?

Oh, yes. The germs know what they are doing. They are doing what germs do. That they are invisible does not help anything. That a person can be infected and not have any symptoms (be asymptomatic) does not help. Why? Because in the meantime, they are going about their everyday activities, possibly infecting others. I guess Sherlock Holmes said it best: “THE GAME IS ON!” Pandemics have happened before and will happen again. It’s how we respond to them—especially how fast and effectively—that makes all the difference in the world.

Learn more in our NEW Outbreaks, Epidemics, & Pandemics book.


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