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While casual use of epidemic may not require such nuance, it’s important to know the differences between these two terms (and similar ones like outbreak and endemic) when considering public health news. In addition, from an epidemiologic standpoint, terms like these direct the public health response to better control and prevent a disease.

The role of epidemiology is to determine the disease prevalence (the proportion of people affected within a population) and incidence (the occurrence of a disease over a specific period of time) to direct the appropriate public health response.


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