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Epidemics UPSC | Natural Disaster| Contemporary Issues | Geography of India

As per Malthusian theory,

Epidemics are a positive check on the growing population.

What are Epidemics?

The diseases that spread very fast and easily across the region, state, and national boundary are called epidemic diseases.

Epidemics is one type of natural disaster caused by micro-organisms like viruses, bacteria, etc.

The following are examples of Epidemic diseases in India;

  • Monkey Fever
  • Dengue fever
  • Zika Virus
  • Chikungunya
  • Nipah virus

Pandemic Disease:

The pandemic disease is an epidemic that spread across large areas across the globe.

For examples,

  • Plague
  • Smallpox
  • Third Cholera( 1852-1860); Waterborne disease originated in India and spreads all over the world.
  • Ebola( 2014); is the virus that causes fever and diarrhea, transmitted from wild animals. 
  • Influenza:
    • Spanish flue-1918-19
    • Asian Influenza-1957
    • Hong Kong-1968
    • Covid-19

Spanish flue during 1918-19 killed more than 40 million people across the globe. India alone, it killed 12.5 million people, or 5 % of the total population. It was a Pandemic.

The genetic makeup of influenza viruses allows for both major and minor genetic changes that make them immune to existing vaccines.


  • Traditional Indian medics used the rubbed the skin of smallpox victims to healthy skin; hoping to induced a mild form of smallpox that creates resistance against the disease.
  • English physician, Edward Jenner gave cowpox to healthy people to make them resistant to smallpox. As the cowpox virus is closely related to the smallpox virus, Cow is Vacca in Latin, from here word vaccination name came to current usage. Vaccination or immunizations are done to prevent infectious diseases.
  • The Hepatitis virus causes Jaundice that is transmitted through water.

For example, 

  • Spanish flue, Covid-19

Factors affecting the spread of disease or epidemics:

  • Genetic Factors
  • Age factors
  • Vaccination
  • Climatic factors

Route of direct transmission:

  • Respiratory route; Coughing and sneezing. Pathogenesis and influenza.
  • Digestive route; from contamination water and feed.
  • Through wounds
The following are transmitters of Epidemics:
  • People via cough, handshaking, other interactions.
  • Animal-like Bats, Rats, Mosquitos, Chickens, Pigs, etc
  • Non-living contaminated water, food, etc
  • Epidemics are also consequences of floods, droughts, tropical storms, etc.

Controlling outbreak:

  • Maintain hygiene food and surroundings
  • Vaccination
  • Isolating the sick person

Epidemic Act 1897:

  • Special power is given to administrators such as IAS, IPS officers to tackle the epidemic such as Isolating the sick person, and Quartine, etc.
  • Legal protection was also given to the public administrator 

Epidemic Act amendment 2020:

  • Provision of Penalty against violence to healthcare person.
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