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What is an outbreak?

An outbreak in medical terminology means a sudden start or eruption of a contractible disease. For example, a disease quickly spreading from one person, or host, to others and increasing in prevalence would be an outbreak. An outbreak can happen with any illness that can be transferred. Outbreaks of diseases are taken very seriously and avoided at all costs, as they can have devastating consequences. Some outbreaks are more severe and dangerous than others. An outbreak of chickenpox is a less serious issue than an outbreak of Polio.

In hospitals, many precautions are taken in order to avoid outbreaks, such as thorough hand washing, frequent sanitation practices, and protective surgical gear among others. During flu season many people get vaccinated in order to avoid contracting the flu and the event of an outbreak. The World Health Organization tracks outbreaks by year and type of disease. Serious outbreaks are very rare in developed countries because of the stricter practices and standards in place to defend against them. In underdeveloped or less developed countries, outbreaks are more common.