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List of terms related to Epidemic

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

In epidemiology, an epidemic (from Greek epi- upon + demos people) is a classification of a disease that appears as new cases in a given human population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is "expected," based on recent experience (the number of new cases in the population during a specified period of time is called the "incidence rate"). (An epizootic is the same thing but for an animal population.)


Defining an epidemic can be subjective, depending in part on what is "expected". An epidemic may be restricted to one locale (an outbreak), more general (an "epidemic") or even global (pandemic). Because it is based on what is "expected" or thought normal, a few cases of a very rare disease like rabies may be classified as an "epidemic," while many cases of a common disease (like the common cold) would not.

Endemic diseases

Common diseases that occur at a constant but relatively high rate in the population are said to be "endemic." An example of an endemic disease is malaria in some parts of Africa (for example, Liberia) in which a large portion of the population is expected to get malaria at some point in their lifetimes.

Non-infectious disease usage

The term "epidemic" is often used in a sense to refer to widespread and growing societal problems, for example, in discussions of obesity, mental illness or drug addiction.

Famous examples of epidemics include the bubonic plague epidemic of Medieval Europe= known as the Black Death, and the Great Influenza Pandemic which coincided with the end of World War I.

Factors stimulating new epidemics

Factors that have been described by Mark Woolhouse and Sonya Gowtage-Sequeria to stimulate the rise of new epidemics [1] include:

  1. Alterations in agricultural practices and land use
  2. Changes in society and human demographics
  3. Poor population health (e.g. malnutrition, HIV, ...)
  4. Hospitals and medical procedures
  5. Evolution of the pathogen (e.g. increased virulence, antimicrobial drug resistance,)
  6. Contamination of water supplies and food sources
  7. International travel
  8. Failure of public health programs
  9. International trade
  10. Climate change

In addition, several other factors have also been mentioned in different reports, such as the report by professor Andy Dobson [2] and the report by professor Akilesh Mishra [3].These include :

  1. Reduced levels of biodiversity (e.g. trough environmental destruction)
  2. Bad urban planning

Pre-emptive measures

To protect us against the emergence of new epidemics, several preemptive measures have been proposed by professor Nina Marano [4], and Andy Dobson. These include:

  • To eat less food containing animal protein (eg meat, milk, milk-derivates)
  • To eat local food
  • To eat crops according to the season
  • To make agriculture more efficient
  • To avoid destruction of the rainforest
  • To be prepared to pay a higher price for meat

In addition, certain other measures are known to reduce the beneficial factors found above. As such, the measures would also decrease the possible emergence of new epidemics. These measures are:

Renewed concern

In August 2007, the World Health Organization reported an unprecedented rate of propagation of infectious diseases.[5]


  1. "Emerging Infectious Diseases" by Mark E.J. Woolhouse and Sonya Gowtage-Sequeria
  2. Andy Dobson blaming reduced levels of biodiversity as a epidemic-triggering factor
  3. Akilesh Mishra blaming certain disease outbreaks on urban planning
  4. professor Nina Marano proposing measures against epidemics
  5. "WHO warns of global epidemic risk". BBC News. 23 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-05.

See also

External links

af:Epidemie bs:Epidemija ca:Epidèmia cs:Epidemie da:Epidemi de:Epidemie eo:Epidemio eu:Izurri gl:Epidemia id:Wabah it:Epidemia lt:Epidemija nl:Epidemie no:Epidemi nn:Epidemi qu:Unquy mast'akuy sq:Epidemia scn:Pidimìa simple:Epidemic sk:Epidémia sl:Epidemija sr:Епидемија fi:Epidemia sv:Epidemi

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