Endemic Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Do you know endemic’s meaning? This article will provide you with all the information you from its definition to its usage and more!

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What Does Endemic Mean?

After the arrival of COVID-19, public health officials began using a flood of new language to describe the virus sweeping over the nation – and the subsequent global public health response. While there are many words that we could ultimately cover, it appears the term “endemic” often comes with a lot of confusion. So, what exactly does endemic mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, something is endemic when found in a particular geographic area, region, or population. Furthermore, an endemic disease persistently and regularly spreads in a specific location. 

For example, AIDS is endemic in some parts of Africa (specifically, West Africa). The same goes for malaria, which is endemic to tropical regions. The seasonal flu can also be considered endemic.

The novel coronavirus isn’t endemic yet, but experts believe that in due time, it will eventually get there. 

What Is an Outbreak?

Simply put, an outbreak is a sudden breaking out, occurrence, or eruption. When talking about infectious disease, an outbreak is specifically a sudden rise in cases, especially when it is only or so far affecting a relatively localized area. 

Many factors contribute to the outbreak of infectious diseases. The spread of illness occurs due to transmission from humans, animals, or even the environment. For example:

  • Exposure to chemicals or radioactive materials (ex: Minamata is a horrible disease that develops after exposure to mercury)
  • Weather conditions (ex: measles often appears in the winter, whereas whooping cough prefers to make an appearance in spring)
  • The aftermath of disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and droughts, can lead to high disease transmission.
  • Many varying environmental factors, such as water supply, air quality, food, and sanitation facilities, can quickly catalyze the spread of diseases. 

Additionally, the origin of a disease can also be unknown. Many factors can be the culprit behind an infectious disease outbreak, such as:

  • Natural toxins
  • A new modified pathogen
  • Unknown ionizing radiation over-exposure
  • Undetected chemical releases

To protect the health, safety, and general wellness of the public, the experts in the growing field of epidemiology work day and night to trace the source of these mysterious outbreaks in hopes of identifying the cause to prevent further spread. 

Furthermore, to fight these life-threatening infections and contagious variants (such as the omicron variant), epidemiologists need our help to slow down the spread. Wear a face mask and ensure you’re up to date on all of your vaccines to do your part.

What Are Synonyms and Antonyms for the Word Endemic?

There are several substitute words, also known as synonyms, for endemic. To help expand your vocabulary, here are a few of the most common synonyms of endemic listed below:

  • Local
  • Regional
  • Native
  • Indigenous
  • Particular locality
  • Particular population

Antonyms of endemic include:

  • Systemic
  • Widely distributed
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Nonindigenous
  • Nonnative
  • Foreign

What Does Epidemic Mean?

Although many people use endemic and epidemic interchangeably, the two terms have different meanings. As mentioned, an endemic disease is constantly present in a group or geographic area. In contrast, an epidemic refers to an outbreak of disease that spreads through one or more populations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), epidemics occur when an infectious agent and susceptible hosts are present in ample number and the agent moves effectively from a source to the susceptible hosts. Most specifically, an epidemic may result from:

  • The recent introduction of an infectious agent into a setting where it has not been previously
  • A recent increase in the virulence of the agent
  • An amplified mode of transmission so that more susceptible individuals face exposure to the infectious agent
  • A change in the susceptibility of the host response to the agent
  • Factors that enhance host exposure or involve introduction through new ways of entry

Earlier definitions of epidemic presume only infectious agents. Still, over the years, experts concluded that non-infectious diseases such as obesity exist in epidemic proportions in the United States, leading to the revision of the meaning of the word epidemic. Today, epidemic is an umbrella term to describe any problem that has grown out of control. 

Here are some examples of past epidemics:

  • 1793 Yellow fever
  • 1832 to 1866 Cholera
  • 1858 Scarlet fever
  • 1918 Spanish flu
  • 1918 to 1922 Russia typhus 
  • 1981 to 1991 measles outbreak
  • 2014 whopping cough

What Does Pandemic Mean?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a disease is considered a pandemic when its growth is exponential, with cases increasing daily. In being declared a pandemic, the virus has nothing to do with population immunity, virology, or disease severity — it means a virus covers a wide area, affecting several populations and countries. 

Here are past examples of past pandemics:

  • 1957 to 1958 Asian Flu pandemic
  • 1981 to present-day AIDS 
  • 2009 to 2010 H1N1 Swine flu
  • 2014 to 2016 West African Ebola
  • 2020 to present-day Coronavirus

What Is an Epicenter?

The epicenter for a disease is the country or region where case numbers grow the quickest. In the context of illness, the epicenter is where a disease spreads faster than anywhere else in the world. It’s the primary hotspot of the infectious disease and not a safe place for travel.

In Conclusion

To recap, the word endemic describes a disease that affects many people within a community, population, or region. 

To help prevent the spread of disease and boost your immune protection, keep your gut flora in tip-top shape with good nutrition and be sure to get vaccinated.


  1. cms-decommissioning | World Health Organization
  2. Epidemics of non-infectious disease | PubMed
  3. Principles of Epidemiology | CDC
  4. Endemic Definition & Meaning | Merriam-Webster