Hi there, reader! Hope everything is well with you. It’s already December and we are still struggling with the effects of COVID-19 virus. We are still in the discovery stage of a perfect vaccine for this gruesome infection (check my previous posts regarding covid-19 and vaccination to know more about these). But I believe, things will get better. 🙂
In this blog post, I want to discuss the differences among these terms: outbreak, epidemic, endemic and pandemic. These terms, as what you’re already thinking, are related to what we are experiencing right now. But do you know what each term pertains to? Let me quickly define each term.
Outbreak. If you check the dictionary, it will show you “a sudden increase“. It is an uncontrolled and undesired transmission of a disease, and it either stays in one area or spreads widely. Just like in the image above. Say there was a high number of reported dengue cases in 1st Avenue (and none in other places). Now we can call it a dengue outbreak. This outbreak should be controlled immediately, otherwise, it will be an “epidemic” or “endemic“. This now brings me to the next term, epidemic.
Epidemic. Now this involves a wider scope compared to an outbreak. Again, if you will check the dictionary, you will find “affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time“. This number tends to increase as well. An epidemic is usually localized to a particular region, with the infection rate significantly higher than the other regions. Let’s take COVID-19 virus as an example. When it was first reported only in Wuhan, China, (in other words, when COVID-19 was only within Wuhan), it was still described as an epidemic. But when this virus spread to various provinces within China, it was then considered as endemic.
Endemic. The moment the disease spreads throughout the country, it is now considered as endemic. Again, let’s look at the definition from the dictionary: “belonging or native to a particular people or country“. When we say “endemic”, it does not only refer to diseases or infections. This may also refer to other living organisms, such as plants or animals. For example, kangaroos are endemic in Australia. This means that these hopping animals are natives of Australia. Also, the plant Tectona philippinensis is endemic to the Philippines, which means that this plant was originally found in the Philippines. One more thing, in terms of diseases, the “African Sleeping Sickness” is endemic to Africa. To make it easy to remember, just think of endemic as native to a place. 🙂
Okay, one of the most searched word in the dictionary for the year 2020: PANDEMIC. I believe this is the easiest term to remember. Pandemic starts with the letter P. Think of “passport” (of course, you need a passport to travel to another country). You would easily remember that this term refers to “affecting the entire world“. Again, when we check its definition in the dictionary, we will find: “occurring over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affecting a significant proportion of the population“. This time, when the disease affects different countries around the world, then that’s considered as pandemic. It is a worldwide or global issue. Just like….. yup you got it, COVID-19! It started from being an epidemic to becoming a pandemic. Just like the 1918 pandemic or the Spanish flu pandemic. This deadly influenza pandemic lasted from February 1918 to April 1920. (On a side note, did you ever think that you will experience a pandemic in your lifetime? I did not 😦 ). I am quite certain that we all will never forget the definition of pandemic.
So that’s it folks. I hope you learned something from this simple blog. These are just few important terms that we should know as these involve us.
Take care everyone. Stay safe! Adios!