Difference between Epidemic and Endemic (With Table)

Epidemic vs Endemic

Epidemic and Endemic are two words that are often used to refer to the extent to which certain diseases affect people in a particular area or region. These words are often fluid in nature as they take up meanings as in when the disease takes its course in affecting people.

In the medical sense, the disease is termed to be an ‘epidemic’ when it affects a large number of people within a particular population, community, or region. While the spread of a disease is known to be ‘endemic’ in nature when it belongs to a particular people or country.

An epidemic is a disease that keeps on actively spreading from person to person, though just in a particular area, but infecting a larger number of people than usual. While an endemic is often localized to certain regions and is constantly present in that particular location.

The difference between an epidemic and endemic is that the term epidemic is not only used with regards to diseases that are fast spreading but also to mention anything that is rising upon the people and is a risk to the health of people, while endemic is preferably used to indicate a constant level of disease that is present within each society.


Comparison Table Between Epidemic and Endemic (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonEpidemicEndemic
MeaningA disease is termed to be an epidemic when it is infectious and is widespread in a community of people at a given particular time.The disease is known to be endemic to a particular region when it is generally found among people living in that area, irrespective of the given time.
Rate of infectionAn epidemic spreads at a faster rate than expected and has many people infected within a short period and the rate keeps on increasing.As endemic diseases are found in a certain region, the spread is normally at a slower rate as compared to other diseases and the rate almost remains constant.
Area of damageAs it is an infectious disease it spreads fast and is not restricted to a certain community or area and has wide area coverage in less time.Endemics are usually prevalent in a certain population and they are always prone to it, hence the area of infection is certain and not that alarming.
Turns intoAn epidemic is usually restricted to a certain state or nation, but its widespread may turn it into a pandemic affecting people across the globe causing an outbreak.An endemic usually remains restricted to their original area and has a constant presence in the same area and community, seldom having chances of it turning into an epidemic.
ExamplesThe COVID-19 disease caused due to coronavirus was restricted to Wuhan, China, and hence was an epidemic until it spread across the globe, making it a pandemic.Diseases like malaria are endemic to regions in Africa, Dengue in Malaysia, Tuberculosis, chickenpox, etc,.


What is Epidemic?

An epidemic is when there is a rise in the cases of diseases, injury, or other health issues in a given area, within a small period. The word epidemic is derived from the Greek word, ‘epi’ meaning ‘upon’ and ‘demos’ meaning ‘people’.

In terms of disease, it is the rapid spreading of disease from person to person at a rate more than the usual expected rate and sometimes is also known as an ‘outbreak’ of the disease. Usually, infectious diseases can turn into epidemics and hence have that faster rate of infecting people. Epidemic diseases can be transmitted through air, insects, by contact, or even through feces.

An epidemic usually starts within a community and area, and in the worse case may spread to an entire nation, but if it spreads to a much more area, i.e. at a global level, then it is termed as a ‘pandemic’. Usually, rare diseases are classified as epidemics as there are certain baseline conditions required to be fulfilled for a disease to turn into an epidemic.

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A disease may turn into an epidemic if the infecting agent has increased virulence or even if the host body does not have the amount of immunity required to stop it from affecting the body. Epidemics usually need not be only contagious diseases, but could also be any health risks like obesity that has been increasing at a steady rate among a group of people.

Epidemics could start by infections from infected food, contaminated water, and certain animals like rats and mosquitos, that act as vectors. Certain diseases turn into epidemics in ceratin particular seasons, like Influenza or common cold that occurs usually in winters.


What is Endemic?

The literal meaning of the word ‘endemic’ is restricted or peculiar to a particular locality or belongs to a certain community of people. The disease is known to be endemic when its presence is found to be constant in a particular region.

The word endemic is derived from the Greek word, ‘en’ which means ‘within’ and ‘demos’ meaning ‘people’. When that particular disease remains restricted to that region, it is endemic to that region, but if the cases rise at an unexpected level, it may become an epidemic.

For example, Chickenpox is endemic to the United Kingdom as a fixed number of people get infected by it, every year, while malaria is not endemic to the UK. The rate of people getting infected is usually constant when it is an endemic disease.

When an endemic disease infects people, it infects persons and then keeps on transmitting from the infected person, but the number of people infected does not increase exponentially. This is because the presence of that particular disease is constant among that community and some of them have formed immunity against it.

Therefore, an endemic stays within a particular region and infects that particular area, and does not die out, but has a constant presence in that community.


Main Differences Between Epidemic and Endemic

  • The disease is known to be an epidemic if it affects a large number of people within a short period, while an endemic disease has a constant presence in a particular region.
  • The main difference between an epidemic and endemic is that an epidemic is found ‘among’ a particular community or region, while an endemic is found ‘within’ a particular community.
  • An epidemic spreads at a faster rate while an endemic is comparatively slower and restricted to a certain territory.
  • An epidemic if infects people across countries it turns into a pandemic, while an endemic if increases might take the form of an epidemic.
  • Epidemics usually have the chance of spreading to a larger area at an alarming rate, more than expected while, endemics only constantly show up at a place and do not spread to a larger area.



Epidemic and Endemic are both terms largely used to define the extent of certain diseases and the effect it has on people. Epidemics affect a large number of people and can be contagious infections or even other major health risks.

While endemics are diseases that are peculiar or restricted to a certain region and do not spread at a faster rate. An epidemic may take the form of a pandemic by infecting people across the globe and hence is also popularly known as an ‘outbreak’, while an endemic remains constant in an area.


Word Cloud for Difference Between Epidemic and Endemic

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Epidemic and Endemic. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Difference between Epidemic and Endemic

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