Not all infectious disease terms are created equal, although they are often mistakenly used interchangeably. The differentiation between the words “pandemic”, “plague” and “endemic” is consistently obscured, even by clinical specialists. This is because the definition of each term is fluid and changes as diseases become more or less common over time.
While using these words in conversation may not require precise definitions, knowing the difference is important in order to better understand the public health news and public health responses to it.
What is the difference between a pandemic, an epidemic, an endemic and an outbreak?
Let’s start with basic definitions:
- AN EPIDEMIC is a disease that affects a large number of people in a community, population, or region.
- A PANDEMIC is an epidemic that stretches across several countries or continents.
- ENDEMIC is something that belongs to a specific people or country.
- AN OUTBREAK is an above-expected increase in the number of endemic cases. It can also be an isolated case in a new area. If not controlled quickly, an outbreak can turn into an epidemic.
How is a pandemic different?
- Affects a larger geographic area, often worldwide
- Infects a large number of people
- Often caused by a new virus or strain that has not been circulating in people for a long time
- People have little to no immunity to the virus and it spreads quickly
- Causes more deaths
- Often causes social disruption and economic loss
The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed between 20 and 40 million people. It is perhaps the most decimating pandemics recorded in world history. In 2009, H1N1 influenza was a recent global pandemic.
While pandemic influenza is rare, it recurs regularly. Some pandemics are worse than others.
Public health experts say it is not about IF a pandemic flu comes, but WHEN. It is important to be prepared.
Preparing for a pandemic
Here are some things you can do:
- Plan ahead in case services are interrupted. This is especially important if someone in your family has special needs. For example, make sure you have a way to fill necessary prescriptions.
- Make a list of important contacts for home, school, and work.
- Talk to your neighbors, workplace, and school about how to plan to stay home if you or members of your household are sick.
- Buy and store supplies of food, water, medicine, and masks for at least two weeks.
- Stay as healthy as possible by getting plenty of rest, managing stress, eating right, and exercising.
Epidemic versus Pandemic
A simple way to understand the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic is to remember “P” in a pandemic, which means that the pandemic has a passport. A pandemic is an epidemic that travels.
Epidemic against endemic
But what is the difference between an epidemic and an endemic one? An epidemic is actively spreading; new cases of the disease substantially exceed expectations. More generally, it is used to describe any problem that is out of control, such as “the opioid epidemic.” An epidemic is often localized in one region, but the number of infected people in that region is significantly higher than normal. For example, when COVID-19 was confined to Wuhan, China, it was an epidemic. The geographic spread made it a pandemic.
Endemics, on the other hand, are a constant presence in a specific place. Malaria is endemic in parts of Africa. The ice is endemic to Antarctica.
Endemic vs. Outbreak
Going one step further, an endemic disease can cause an outbreak, and an outbreak can occur anywhere. Last summer’s dengue outbreak in Hawaii is one example. Dengue fever is endemic to specific locales of Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Mosquitoes in these zones convey dengue fever and send it from individual to individual. But in 2019 there was a dengue outbreak in Hawaii, where the disease is not endemic. It is believed that an infected person visited the Big Island and was bitten by mosquitoes there. The insects then transferred the disease to other individuals who bit, causing an outbreak.
You can see why these terms are so easy to get confused. They are all interrelated and there is a natural ebb and flow between them as treatments become available and control measures are implemented, or when outbreaks occur and the disease begins to spread.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
1. Do I need to take special home precautions during the coronavirus disease pandemic?
Dust containers should be lined with plastic bags and the bags tied before throwing.
Use a diluted solution (1 part household bleach to 99 parts water) once a day to clean the bathroom, toilet, surface tables, bed frames and other bedroom furniture by the bed.
Put used laundry in a laundry bag. Do not shake soiled laundry and avoid direct contact with skin and clothing with the contaminated material.
Wash clothes, bed linen, bath towels, etc. with normal detergent and water or wash them at 60-90 ° C with a normal household detergent and dry them thoroughly.
2. What are good foods during the COVID-19 pandemic?
You ought to eat an assortment of new and natural nourishments consistently to get the nutrients, minerals, fiber, proteins, and cell reinforcements your body needs. Drink enough water. Eat fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), nuts, and whole grains (e.g.natural corn, millet, oats, wheat, earthy colored rice, or bland tubers or roots, for example, potatoes, sweet potato, taro, or cassava) and nourishments from creature sources, (for example, meat, fish, eggs, and milk). For snacks, pick crude vegetables and new organic products as opposed to food sources high in sugar, fat, or salt.
3. What is Coronavirus Disease Pandemic Surveillance?
It is a series of techniques used to determine the source of the disease and other factors that contribute to the spread of the disease. It is also used to identify infected people, the conditions of the spread of diseases and how they spread, and requires the cooperation of all members of society to provide the information needed by each team.