What's the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic?

16 October 2005

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Question

What's the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic?

Answer

We really shouldn't be using the word pandemic. It basically means a global outbreak. Really, flu is the only one that is pandemic. It can start anywhere and can sweep around the world. An epidemic can mean an outbreak in Norfolk and then maybe spreading to London but not going too far into Europe. So an epidemic is usually restricted, but a pandemic sweeps the whole world.

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