How is a pandemic different from an epidemic? Knowing the difference is important to help you better understand public health news and appropriate public health responses.
Endemic: A constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infection within a geographic area.
Epidemic: A sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease—more than what’s typically expected for the population in that area. Epidemic is often used broadly to describe any problem that has grown out of control. During an epidemic, the disease is actively spreading.
Pandemic: An epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, affecting a large number of people.
How is a pandemic different?
- Affects a wider geographical area, often worldwide
- Infects a larger number of people
- Often caused by a new virus or a new strain of virus that has not circulated within people for a long time
- Humans have little to no immunity against the virus and it spreads quickly
- Causes more deaths
- Often creates social disruption and economic loss
Why declare a pandemic?
Declaring a pandemic allows national and global public health agencies to respond to the situation at a higher degree. The use of the term also highlights the importance of countries working together in the effort to control the pandemic. Declaring a pandemic raises awareness about the problem and increase measures to control it.
Source: health.com, rochesterregional.org