Managing pandemics in general practice


Last revised: 28 Jun 2024

Disease outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines disease outbreaks as:

…the occurrence of disease cases in excess of normal expectancy. The number of cases varies according to the disease-causing agent, and the size and type of previous and existing exposure to the agent. Disease outbreaks are usually caused by an infection, transmitted through person-to-person contact, animal-to-person contact, or from the environment or other media. Outbreaks may also occur following exposure to chemicals or to radioactive materials.1


In an epidemic, many more cases of a disease occur than would normally develop in a community or region, but the condition does not spread further geographically.2


A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease, such as viral respiratory diseases (eg those caused by a new influenza virus or coronavirus). The WHO is responsible for declaring when a global pandemic is occurring.2

This event attracts CPD points and can be self recorded

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