Define endemic, epidemic, and pandemic, and provide an example of each. Describe a current epidemic.


An epidemic refers to the constant presence of one disease or infection in a certain geographic area or population. An epidemic refers to a widespread outbreak or spread of disease or infected within one population or region. A pandemic refers to a widespread epidemic, which can spread across many continents or around the globe. Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa is an example of an endemic condition. In West Africa, the Ebola virus epidemic in 2014 caused an epidemic. COVID-19 is a pandemic and has been spreading worldwide since 2019.

One example of this current epidemic is the US opioid epidemic. With 69,710 opioid overdose deaths in 2020, the number of deaths from this epidemic has been on the rise at alarming rates. Primary prevention measures could include decreasing opioid prescribing and encouraging non-opioid pain relief options. Secondary prevention could involve improving access to overdose-reversing medication and addiction treatment programs. In order to avoid relapse, Tertiary Prevention efforts might include ongoing support and care of individuals who are in recovery.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a major publication, publishes the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This report provides information and advice to public and private health professionals, as well as recommendations for the public. The MMWR contains data regarding notifiable diseases and outbreaks as well as other health concerns.

One recent report from the MMWR is “COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with a Youth Hockey Tournament — Massachusetts, 2021.” The report describes a COVID-19 outbreak that occurred among attendees of a youth hockey tournament in Massachusetts in July 2021. It is also covered the natural history and transmission mode of COVID-19. The report uses descriptive epidemiology to describe the disease and highlight its features.


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