The difference between an epidemic and a pandemic isn’t the severity of the disease, but the degree to which the disease has spread. Between 50 and 100 million people are thought to have died…, China’s initial response to SARS had problems. This shift prompted a considerable number of people to turn to the dictionary, in order to ascertain the difference between the two -demics.

Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily! Pandemic comes from the Greek pandēmos (“of all the people”), which itself is from pan- (“all, every”) and  dēmos (“people”). Like epidemic, pandemic ultimately derives from the Greek pándēmos, “common, public.” Also like epidemic, pandemic was originally used of diseases when in came into English. An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time: Annual influenza epidemics follow a winter seasonal pattern in the United States with typical activity peaking during late December to early February.

Today, the word epidemic is used in casual conversations to refer to almost anything negative that has spread throughout a culture or a region. Epidemic began being used as a noun later in the 17th century; pandemic did not undergo this functional shift until the 19th. The coronavirus has, unfortunately, spread now to such a global extent, and with such severity, that we appear to have moved past the point of semantic ambiguity; the disease has taken on pandemic proportions. The technical name for this specific outbreak is SARS-COV-2, and it is the first time a coronavirus has caused a pandemic.

Why are people casually referring to this disease outbreak as a “plague?” Is there a difference between isolation and quarantine? So, in this post, let’s get academic. Epidemic is commonly used all on its own as a noun, meaning “a temporary prevalence of a disease.” For example: T… The 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic [is] estimated as being responsible for the deaths of approximately 50 million people or more. Well, both words contain –demic and are used for disease outbreaks, but they’re not exactly the same. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic. Epidemics occur when an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts. The two terms are not interchangeable. This page explains exactly how much water you should drink in a day.

Learn more about COVID-19 by visiting our resource page. A pandemic is an epidemic that has traveled internationally.

Epidemic is commonly used all on its own as a noun, meaning “a temporary prevalence of a disease.” For example: The city was able to stop the flu epidemic before it spread across the state. Some previous … Epidemic vs. Pandemic vs. 'Nip it in the butt' or 'Nip it in the bud'. An epidemic becomes a pandemic when it spreads over significant geographical areas and affects a large percent of the population. For good measure … here’s another example of each in a sentence. Due to its worldwide reach, a pandemic can lead to a disease becoming endemic (as opposed to being largely contained or eradicated through the use of vaccines, for example). More on the prefix epi– later.

The past two months have thrust the terminology of public health into the forefront of people’s conversation.

The virus still circulates today during flu season. The prefix en- means “in or within” and the Greek root dēm(os) means “people.” So the basic meaning of endemic is “within a certain people” (or “within a certain area”). CHAP.

The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 to be a controllable pandemic and continues to provide advice on precautionary practices and ways to stop the spread of the disease. In March 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

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