What is Epidemic

This blog post is going to discuss what is epidemic. In the Indian context, there are many contextual challenges which we are facing today; especially, when we inspect in relation to pastoral care and counseling in India. One of the serious challenges is the epidemics, which are encountered by whole humanity.

What is Epidemic

The epidemic is mainly derivatives from the two Greek words ‘Epi’ meaning upon or above and “Demos” meaning people. The epidemic is an occurrence of disease that is temporary of high prevalence.

It occurs when cases of a certain disease, in a given human population, and during a given period; largely exceed what is expected based on recent experience. The Epidemiologist often considers the term outbreak to be similar to epidemic; but the general public holds the view that the outbreaks are to be more local and less serious than an epidemic.

An epidemic may be restricted to a specific geographical locality. However, if it spreads to other countries or continents and affects a substantial number of people, it may be termed a pandemic.

The declaration of an epidemic usually requires a good understanding of the root cause, rate of incidence, Epidemics for certain diseases, such as influenza, are defined as reaching some defined increase in incidence above this baseline.

A few cases of a very rare disease may classify as an epidemic, while many cases of a common disease (such as the common cold) would not.

Causes of Epidemic

There are several changes that may occur in a communicable agent that may produce an epidemic these include.

  • Increased virulence (danger and speed of spreading of diseases).
  • The deterioration of individual immunity.
  • Changes in the most exposure to the infectious agent.
  • An epidemic disease does not always required to be contagious.

 Few causes for increasing the vulnerability of the epidemics in the Indian context

  • Poverty
    • Malnutrition
    • Lack of awareness
    • Inaccessibility to the medical care
    • Large number of population

Types of Epidemic

Common source outbreak:

In a common source outbreak, the affected individuals had exposure to a common agent. If the exposure is singular and all of the affected individuals develop the disease over a single exposure and incubation course; it can be termed a point source outbreak. If the exposure was continuous or variable; it can be termed a continuous outbreak.

Propogated outbreak

In a propagated outbreak, the disease spreads person-to-person. Affected individuals may become independent reservoirs leading to further exposures.

Many epidemics will have characteristics of both common source and propagated outbreaks. For example, secondary person-to-person spread may occur after a common source exposure.

Impacts of Epidemics on humans

Many epidemics involve the impaired relationship of one part of the body with another; or disease caused by an invading micro-organism may represent a breakdown of the relationship with the environment.

Similarly, mental illness includes a breakdown of relationships with others or with the self. (For e.g. Hiroshima Nagasaki incident and Bhopal Gas Tragedy11).

A sick person may go through the following feelings as a result of epidemics.

*   Fear of death e.g. If there is doubt and delay in recovery then there is fear of death. Fear of death may increase anxiety and that in turn may adversely affect the healing process.

*   Epidemic interfere with the freedom of people. The sick often compelled to stay in bed and accept a discipline imposed upon them by the doctor and nurses.

*  Epidemics are also times of loneliness. The sick person cut off from society in which she/he lives and works.

*  Epidemics may bring feelings of guilt. When people are active they do not have time to be introspective. But when they are sick, they are compelled to think of their own conduct and behavior. Very often they ask why they are sick? There is also a lurking fear in the hearts of all that disease as a punishment for sin.

*  Through epidemics not only the sick person but also the members of the family are affected.


It is about the possible causes and results of sickness. People wonder how their family will cope without them. Who will look after the children?


They feel useless and despairing because they are treated as incapable of working.


Sick people are often feeling resentful towards those who are well, or angry with the doctor and other medical workers.


In sickness is prolonged, people can lose hope.

Role of pastoral  As a caregiver

Pastoral counseling and pastoral-care-giving are mainly under the umbrella of ‘pastoral care’ it is interlinked together and much wider than just the meaning of it.


‘Care’ is a word that causes few problems. It must, however, be distinguished from ‘cure’.Cure of physical or mental disease is sometimes possible, but when it is not, care continues.

he pastoral care should never say; there is nothing more I can do for you; but should seek to continue care creatively there is a famous motto which sumps up care:’to cure sometimes, to relive often, and to comfort always.

Understanding the background.

The pastoral caregiver needs to know the epidemic through which the person is undergoing. The pastoral caregiver should never appose the work of doctors, and other medical workers.

Caregiver should also be aware of the social and economic situation of the sick persons family and other dependants.

  • Understanding the individual in terms of his\her condition which we discussed above.
  • Avaibility the councellor should be ready to be avaible.
  • Let the patient do the talking.
  • Facilitate expressions of pent up feeling verbally and wheneer possoble.
  • Learn to be comfortable with silences.
  • If medical and fanatical issues are raise,help the petients to speak their doctor and other appropriate persons.
  • do not make promises you cannot fulfill.
  • Do not neglect family members.Extend your care to them.
  • Touch has a great value in communacating caring.
  • If people express gratitude accept graciously.
  • It is important not underestimate the significance of spiritual factors such as faith,love and hope in people and in god as resources that help people in their tress
  • ·         Pastoral care giver should be in forefront of apllying medicine which is rational and objectively based in the contex of a loving,caring relationship with the whole person.

Some other actions which a pastoral caregiver can take

Firstly, Health promotion is more than the prevention of epidemics; but at a more limited physical level prevention is of course ‘better than cure.’ The pastoral caregiver should always be ready to work for the prevention for sickness,e.g. by advocating the practice of good hygiene (Deut.23;12-13).

Church under the guidance of a pastoral caregiver can initiate or promote programs and projects f health and hygiene in the rural villages and cities.

Secondly, there is a need to educate and trained people with regard to mental and emotional health.

Thirdly, Especially in villages for the benefit of the people, pastoral caregivers can keep a medicine chest of common medicines.

Four, Pastoral caregivers can also organize programs and projects for the prevention and cure of diseases.

Fifty, Pastoral caregivers can also support and comfort the patients and give medicine for the mind and spirit.

Six, Pastoral caregivers should be able to give the patient companionship.

Seven, Pastoral caregiver should make his\her visit to the sick soon after his\her knows about it.

Nine, Pastoral care giver should as far as possible protect him\herself against contagious diseases.

Ten, care giver’s visit is not only for the sake of the sick person but for the family as well. because epidemics is a family crisis.

Eleventh, Visit should be brief and frequent.

Twelve, Prayer and medication should not thought of as opposites but as complimentary.

Finally, The sick person, if communicants, may told about receiving communion.


The urging to ‘care’ is both implicit in the compassion required by ‘love your neighbor as yourself`’(Mk.12-31); and occasionally overt in command as in Luke 9:2 ‘He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.’ Luke expert and the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); provide a model of care which remains helpful no matter how restricted finite resources may seen.

The Samaritan demonstrated care that was compassionate (10-33), costly in its commitment (10:34-35), and continuing 910:35). In conclusion, we can say that the principles of ‘Good samaritan’s can still guide pastoral caregivers in the caring vocations to care for the sick as they seek further to make their patients truly healthy and truly whole in Christ.