Epidemics and Pandemics

Virtual Classroom @ Your Library 

Welcome to the Abilene Public Library’s Virtual Classroom.  This space will offer a new place for youth, teens, and adults to learn more about a variety of topics.  They may relate to the library itself, current hot topics, or subjects of general interest, and will continue to grow each month with new content.

For each lesson provided, we will share background information on the subject, links to videos to educate yourself on the topic, lesson plans for various ages, resources available at the library for further learning, and more. Plus, we’ll offer a link to a form we’d appreciate if you completed to show what you learned from participating in our classes!

Pandemic Versus Epidemic
An epidemic disease is one “affecting many persons at the same time, and spreading from person to person in a locality where the disease is not permanently prevalent.” The World Health Organization (WHO) further specifies epidemic as occurring at the level of a region or community.
A pandemic disease is an epidemic that has spread over a large area, that is, it’s “prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world.”
Graphic of globe with endemic, epidemic and pandemic
History of Pandemics
Epidemics in the United States
Short video highlighting major epidemics in the history of the United states. Yellow Fever was America's first epidemic and was a novel virus to early settlers.  Philadelphia creates hospitals and modern water works to battle the disease.

First hand writings of the Black Plague and Typhoid epidemics
The first decade of the politically and socially tumultuous Restoration provides the backdrop to the Diary of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703). Written between 1660 and 1669, the Diary is a firsthand chronicle of the period, describing in vivid detail the great and tragic events of the decade and the activities of daily life in seventeenth-century England. Samuel Pepys, in many ways an ordinary man, was also ambitious, hardworking, intellectually curious, and an influential figure in the Royal Navy. He often went to the theater, met frequently with friends, attended lectures on many aspects of medical science, and read widely. His varied interests are reflected in the observations and ideas recorded in the Diary. A master storyteller, Samuel Pepys is inspiring, humorous, and above all honest, a reminder to all readers that their own lives, if as cleverly recorded, might be as full of interest.Samuel Pepys
The haunting cry of "Bring out your dead!" by a bell-ringing collector of 17th-century plague victims has filled readers across the centuries with cold terror. The chilling cry survives in historical consciousness largely as a result of this classic 1722 account of the epidemic of bubonic plague - known as the Black Death - that ravaged England in 1664–1665. Actually written nearly 60 years later by Daniel Defoe, the Journal is narrated by a Londoner named "H. F.," who allegedly lived through the devastating effects of the pestilence and produced this eye witness account. Drawing on his considerable talents as both journalist and novelist, Defoe reconstructed events both historically and fictionally, incorporating realistic, memorable details that enable the novel to surpass even firsthand accounts in its air of authenticity. This verisimilitude is all the more remarkable since Defoe was only five years old when the actual events took place. daniel defoe

Long Island, 1906: Mary Mallon has been working as a cook for a wealthy family for just a few weeks when members of the household were felled by typhoid. Mary herself wasn't sick--but as it turned out, she was a carrier--a healthy person who spread the disease to others.

When the New York City Board of Health found out about her, she was arrested and quarantined on an island. This biography tells the story of what she went through as she became the subject of a tabloid scandal. How she was treated by medical and legal officials reveals a lesser-known story of human and constitutional rights, entangled with the science of pathology and enduring questions about who Mary Mallon really was. How did her name become synonymous with deadly disease? And who is really responsible for the lasting legacy of Typhoid Mary?

This thorough exploration also includes archival photographs and primary sources, an author's note, a timeline, annotated source notes, and bibliography.

Typhoid Mary
  1. Lesson Plans
  2. Resources
  3. List of Epidemics
  4. Test Your Knowledge
The Flu in Context: Epidemics, Vaccines and Prevention
Pandemics through the years -- includes videos on Small pox and the Spanish flu.Grades 5-12

PBS Learning MediaThe Spread of Disease | STEAM: Ideas That Shape Our World
How do microbes spread?
Cholera spread from wetlands in India to people all over the world. Like many microbes, it made the leap to humans when humans moved into wildlife habitats, then it spread through global transportation networks and crowded, unsanitary cities.
Tracking Contagion: Ebola
The mixing of humans and wildlife in the same habitat led to the transfer of the Ebola virus from fruit bats to humans in 2014
Tracking Contagion: West Nile Virus
Disrupted habitats for birds, and a decline in bird species that eat mosquitoes, may have contributed to the outbreak of West Nile virus in the United States.
Tracking Contagion: Lyme Disease
Urbanization in the Northeast U.S. drove away some tick-eating animals, increasing the population of ticks.
Early Detection
Scientists can use knowledge of how disease spreads to predict where an outbreak is most likely to happen next.

PBS Learning Media  
State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness Resources

  1. 5.B.12.B compare variations and adaptations of organisms in different ecosystems;
  2. 3.B.8.B 
  3. categorize organisms using a hierarchical classification system based on similarities and differences shared among groups; and
  4. 5.B.11.A 
  5. summarize the role of microorganisms in both maintaining and disrupting the health of both organisms and ecosystems; and
  6. 5.B.12.A 
  7. interpret relationships, including predation, parasitism, commensalism, mutualism, and competition, among organisms;
  8. 1.B.4.C 
  9. compare the structures of viruses to cells, describe viral reproduction, and describe the role of viruses in causing diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and influenza.

National Benchmarks for Science Literacy 
  1. 5A/H1b A great diversity of species increases the chance that at least some living things will survive in the face of large changes in the environment.
  2. 5F/H9 Evolution builds on what already exists, so the more variety there is, the more there can be in the future. But evolution does not necessitate long-term progress in some set direction. Evolutionary change appears to be like the growth of a bush: Some branches survive from the beginning with little or no change; many die out altogether; and others branch repeatedly, sometimes giving rise to more complex organisms.
  3. 5F/H10 The continuing operation of natural selection on new characteristics and in diverse and changing environments, over and over again for millions of years, has produced a succession of diverse new species.