What does it mean when a disease is ‘endemic’?

What does it mean when a disease is ‘endemic’?

As viruses like COVID-19 spread, they can become endemic in new regions. (Image credit: Peter Zelei Images via Getty Images)

You may have heard the term “endemic” used to describe diseases, often compared to the terms “epidemic” and “Pandemic.” Many health officials say COVID-19 is likely transitioning from pandemic to endemic status in many countries. But what does that mean?

More generally, the term “endemic” refers to an organism found in a particular region. In ecology, it means a species that lives only in one geographical area, like a plant or animal that is confined to an island, according to the US Geological Survey (opens in new tab). However, in the context of public health, “endemic” refers to a disease with a constant presence or “usual” number of infections in a given area, the authorities said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (opens in new tab).

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