Pandemic.  It's a word that's been around for a very long time - but one that was known only to those relatively few folks working in the field of global public health.  At least that was the case until recently.  How quickly things change.  In a few short weeks as spring turned to summer this year, the word "pandemic" became became part of the common lexicon of virtually every American. 

Lack of knowledge often breeds fear.  So it is with the word "pandemic."  While the word is now common, many don't know what it means - and what they think it means may well be much scarier than what it actually means. 

Perhaps we all need to pitch in and try to spread some clarity about the word pandemic - that it doesn't mean "deadly," and that it doesn't reflect on the clinical severity of an illness.  The word pandemic is about geography, not clinical symptomatology or prognosis.  It's a very useful word indeed for those involved in public health planning and responsiveness.  But it may not be commonly helpful (as it is currently understood by the general public) as summer begins to give way to autumn, and we await the coming of the next flu season.

But as always, there is hope in action.  We can all play a role in helping replace fear with healthy vigilance by taking advantage of opportunities to clarify what the word "pandemic" does and does not mean.  ~ Dr. Tina

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