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epidemic or pandemic - what is the difference between epidemic and pandemic?

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Updated April 28, 2014

Definition:

The words pandemic and epidemic are easily confused, so here is some clarification.

An epidemic refers to a contagious, infectious or viral illness that spreads to many people in one geographic region that occurs in excess of the numbers of cases that would usually be expected.

A pandemic refers to a contagious, infectious or viral illness that spreads, and may include millions of people in many areas across the globe, according to the World Health Organization's description.

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