General Question

justwannaknow's avatar

What is a pandemic?

Asked by justwannaknow (1369points) April 30th, 2009

what is the differance between a pandemic and a epidemic?

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10 Answers

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Ivan's avatar

A pandemic is an epidemic that occurs over a large area.

eponymoushipster's avatar

when peter pan bleeds to death.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Pandemic (


(of a disease) prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area.

SeventhSense's avatar

The scary thing about this swine flu is that they’re calling it a pandemic. Monday it was Mexico and a handful in the USA. Now there are incidences of it worldwide and we’ve increased our numbers fourfold including the first death.

Randy's avatar

Just wait ‘till those cock-a-mimi birds and swine start to chit chat amongst one another. Then they will have ground and air control. The next thing ya know… BAM! Change in the food chain… Just sayin.

I think I saw a few birds chillin on the fence of a local pig farm…


astrocom's avatar

As far as the root of the word goes, the difference between a pandemic and epidemic is that pandemic affects the entire world (“pan- “from an ancient greek word meaning all, is often used to refer to the earth) versus just a disease that affects many people (Etymology of epidemic from wiktionary).
I believe epidemic was originally used in reference solely to outbreaks of disease that effected a large quantity of people, but has since had it’s meaning watered down (I’ve heard news anchors refer to “local epidemics” and epidemics of things that aren’t communicable diseases more times than I’ve heard the word used anywhere else). Between this and increased international travel in the modern world, we don’t really refer to anything other than pandemics, because anything that would have been an epidemic in the past is likely to spread across the entire globe via travelers.

mattbrowne's avatar

Pan- can sometimes even mean multiple planets like in the word panspermia (life spreading between worlds i.e. seeds everywhere).

astrocom's avatar

@mattbrowne heh, yea that’s what happens when mankind’s world goes from being part of a planet, to realizing a planet is a whole object that exists, to realizing there are actually things in places other than that planet, so on and so forth. So now we’re left with a whole bunch of words and word parts from times when certain concepts just didn’t exist and they’re all we have to work with to explain concepts of the future. Ahh the history, magic, and futility that is language.

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