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Difference Between Endemic and Epidemic

What is Endemic and Epidemic?

Endemic is the spread of a disease or an infectious agent within a geographic area that is existing perpetually and an epidemic is the outbreak of a disease that spreads rapidly affecting 

a large number of people in a given community within a short period of time.

The key difference between epidemic and endemic is that the epidemic is a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time and causes destruction to a specific population whereas the endemic is defined as a disease or sickness that is restricted to a population of a particular region or area. 

However, there are some major differences between the two that have been discussed below.

What is Endemic?

An infection or illness is said to be endemic if it occurs in a particular region or population e.g. cholera, malaria and is constantly maintained. Endemic infections, involve bacterial infections, viruses, and other infection causing pathogens that exist within a geographic location.

Endemic term is most commonly used to describe an infectious disease or agent that has spread or is spreading in a restricted territory. For e.g. malaria is an infectious disease and is said to be endemic to tropical territories. An endemic disease can simply be referred to as an endemic. It is not termed as an outbreak.

If the endemic level of an illness or a disease in a population is tenaciously high, then It is termed as hyperendemic.

The term holoendemic is defined as an illness or a disease with which significantly a huge chunk of population is infected. However, holoendemic differs from hyperendemic disease as holoendemic occurs when the younger population is infected after which the illness becomes asymptomatic.

What is Epidemic?

An epidemic is an outbreak of a disease in which incidence of disease is higher than normally expected.

According to CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), an epidemic refers to an upward surge, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that human community in that area.

In an epidemic, the number of infection cases shows variation according to the disease-causing agent, and the size and type of previous and existing exposure to the agent. Seasonal influenza in people is often described as a seasonal epidemic.

Difference between Endemic and Epidemic



A disease/sickness is considered to be endemic if the disease is permanently prevalent in a particular region, geography, or population.

Endemic happens when a disease is regularly present among a particular population, environment, or region. For example – chicken pox that happens at a predictable rate among school children in the U.S and malaria in some areas of continent Africa.

The endemic level is the baseline level of infectious illness/disease which is normal, although it may still not be the desirable level.


A disease/sickness is considered to be epidemic if the occurrence of disease is higher than normally expected. 

Epidemic is defined as a widespread outbreak of an illness or infectious disease affecting an huge number of population within a community, or region. 

Greek definition


Endemic actually means “in the population”. The word endemic is derived from Greek word (endemos), en meaning “in” and demos meaning “people” or “population”.


An epidemic actually means “upon the population”. The word epidemic is derived from Greek words epi meaning “on” and demos meaning “people”.  



It describes an illness or disease that is present permanently in a particular region or population


New cases of the disease substantially increase what is expected. It may be restricted to one region but can spread rapidly to other geographies, countries and continents.



It is relatively easy to manage the endemics


It is difficult to manage the epidemics.



In an endemic, the occurrence of disease/illness is steady.


In an epidemic, the occurrence of disease is fluctuating.

Time duration 


Endemic diseases do not disappear immediately from a population/particular place


Epidemic outbreak may vanish after a certain time from a population/particular place.



During endemic disease spread, excessive resources are not needed to save lives.


During any epidemic outbreak, excessive resources (money, manpower, materials etc.) are required to save lives.

Rate of occurrence


During endemics, the illness/disease occurs at a predictable rate.


Epidemic disease outbreak is present at high levels as they spread in a meteoric phase.

Summary of Endemic and Epidemic

The points of difference between Endemic and Epidemic have been summarized as below:

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References :

[0]Ali, M., Nelson, A. R., Lopez, A. L., & Sack, D. A. (2015). Updated global burden of cholera in endemic countries. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 9(6), e0003832.

[1]Ali, M., Nelson, A. R., Lopez, A. L., & Sack, D. A. (2015). Updated global burden of cholera in endemic countries. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 9(6), e0003832.

[2]Codeço, C. T. (2001). Endemic and epidemic dynamics of cholera: the role of the aquatic reservoir. BMC Infectious diseases, 1(1), 1.

[3]Kalra, S., Kumar, A., Jarhyan, P., & Unnikrishnan, A. G. (2015). Endemic or epidemic? Measuring the endemicity index of diabetes. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 19(1), 5.

[4]Pastor-Satorras, R., & Vespignani, A. (2001). Epidemic dynamics and endemic states in complex networks. Physical Review E, 63(6), 066117.

[5]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Malaria-endemic_countries_eastern_hemisphere-CDC.png

[6]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Difference_between_outbreak,_endemic,_epidemic_and_pandemic-en.png

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