Epidemic vs. Pandemic
- A simple way to know the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic is to remember the “P” in pandemic, which means a pandemic has a passport.
- A pandemic is an epidemic that travels.
Epidemic vs. Endemic
- An epidemic is actively spreading; new cases of the disease substantially exceed what is expected. More broadly, it’s used to describe any problem that’s out of control, such as “the opioid epidemic.”
- An epidemic is often localized to a region, but the number of those infected in that region is significantly higher than normal.
- For example, when COVID-19 was limited to Wuhan, China, it was an epidemic. The geographical spread turned it into a pandemic.
- Endemics, on the other hand, are a constant presence in a specific location.
- Malaria is endemic to parts of Africa.
- Ice is endemic to Antarctica.
Endemic vs. Outbreak
- Going one step farther, an endemic can lead to an outbreak, and an outbreak can happen anywhere.
- 2019 dengue fever outbreak in Hawaii is as an example. Dengue fever is endemic to certain regions of Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
- Mosquitoes in these areas carry dengue fever and transmit it from person to person. But in 2019 there was an outbreak of dengue fever in Hawaii, where the disease is not endemic.
- It’s believed an infected person visited the Big Island and was bitten by mosquitoes there.
- The insects then transferred the disease to other individuals they bit, which created an outbreak.