Difference between Epidemic and Pandemic

There are many ways in which diseases can spread across a particular community or region. In that sense, even though Epidemic and Pandemic are both outbreaks of diseases, there is a lot of difference between them. Let us see each one of them in detail to clear the confusion between Epidemic and Pandemic.


When a disease outbreaks and attacks many people at a time and spreads across several communities, it is known as an Epidemic. Usually, these are infectious diseases that can be passed on from one person to another by direct or indirect contact or even through the air in the form of droplet infection due to coughing and sneezing. Some of these diseases can also be passed on through animals. The most common example of this is the outbreak of malaria and plague which has killed millions of people around the world. Some other diseases can also spread through contaminated food and water sources from one region to another. Most common epidemic diseases are Plague, Smallpox, and HIV/AIDS, which is very deadly and have done a lot of damage to a large section of the population around the world. Other smaller diseases include the common influenza virus and the common flu, which keeps occurring on a regular basis every year.


When an epidemic spreads in a large way across the world, it is known as a Pandemic. In that sense, every Pandemic is an Epidemic, but every epidemic need not become a pandemic. In some situation, some diseases outbreak in a huge manner across the globe due to various factors. One of the biggest examples of this is smallpox and plague which has killed millions of people across the globe. However, due to advancing medical science, Pandemics are under control in recent years. The most recent pandemic, which created fear across the world is the HIV pandemic and the recent H1N1 pandemic. Among them, HIV and AIDS are the current biggest pandemics affecting millions of people across the world. Creating a mass awareness about the ways in which these diseases spread and ways to prevent them is the only way to control these pandemics.

Now, the difference between Epidemic and Pandemic is clear. While both Epidemic and Pandemic are both outbreaks of diseases, Epidemic is the outbreak of infectious diseases in a smaller geographical region while Pandemic is the outbreak of diseases in a large geographical region affecting people across the world.

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