When Does an Epidemic Become a Pandemic? - Deepstash
When Does an Epidemic Become a Pandemic?

When Does an Epidemic Become a Pandemic?

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Epidemic vs. pandemic

An epidemic is a broad term used to describe any problem that is actively spreading and has grown out of control.

The pandemic relates to geographic spread. It describes a disease that affects a whole country or the entire world.

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Disease Event Classification

Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that handles the following:

  • Incidence: the occurrence of a disease over a specified period.
  • Prevalence: how many people are affected within a population.
  • Control of diseases: an appropriate public health response.

Two measurable factors mostly define the level of disease occurrence:

  • The pattern and speed by which a disease moves.
  • The size of the susceptible population.

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The terms an epidemiologist use

  • Sporadic refers to a disease that occurs infrequently or irregularly.
  • Cluster refers to a disease that occurs in larger numbers even though the actual number or cause may be uncertain.
  • Endemic refers to the constant presence and/or general prevalence of a disease in a geographic population.
  • Hyperendemic refers to persistent, high levels of disease well above what is seen in other populations.
  • Epidemic refers to a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected.
  • Outbreak is the same as an epidemic but is often used to describe a more limited geographic event.
  • Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.

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Phases of a Pandemic

The one staging model used to direct the public health response involves the flu. The same basic model can be applied with variations to epidemics like tuberculosis or malaria.

  • Phases 1 through 3 help public health officials know it is time to develop tools and action plans to respond to an impending threat.
  • Phase 4 through 6 happen when action plans are implemented in coordination with the WHO.

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