In epizoology, an epizootic (from Greek epi- upon + zoion animal) is a disease that appears as new cases in a given animal population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is "expected" based on recent experience (i.e. a sharp elevation in the incidence rate). Epidemic is the analogous term applied to human populations. High population density is a major contributing factor to epizootics. Aquaculture is an industry sometimes plagued by disease because of the large number of fish confined to a small area.
Defining an epizootic can be subjective, depending in part on what is "expected". An epizootic may be: a) restricted to a specific locale (an outbreak), b) general (an "epizootic") or c) widespread (panzootic). Because it is based on what is "expected" or thought normal, a few cases of a very rare disease (like a TSE outbreak in a cervid population) might be classified as an "epizootic", while many cases of a common disease (like lymphocystis in esocids) would not.
Common diseases that occur at a constant but relatively high rate in the population are said to be "enzootic". An example of an enzootic disease would be the influenza virus in some bird populations or, at a lower incidence, the Type IVb strain of VHS in certain Atlantic fish populations.
See also