A pandemic (from Greek πᾶν, pan, ‘all’ and δῆμος, demos, ‘people’) is an epidemic disease that has spread across a large region, like multiple continents, or worldwide. A disease is not a pandemic until it is widespread or kills many people, it must also be infectious. Throughout the course of history, a disease outbreaks have destroyed humanity, sometimes changing the course of history and, sometimes wiped out the entire civilizations.
Here is a list of pandemics which cause death of millions around the world.
1. Plague of Justinian (541 to 750 AD):
The Plague of Justinian is regarded as the first historically recorded epidemic of Yersinia pestis. The Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire as well as the Sasanian Empire and port cities around the entire Mediterranean Sea was the most affected area by this Plague. The disease was spread by rats that carried fleas infected with plague. The plague of Justinian holds the title of deadliest Pandemic in history resulting in the deaths of an estimated 25–100 million people (40–50% of population of Europe) during two centuries of recurrence.
2. Black Death (1331–1353):
The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence and the Plague), was one of the most fatal pandemic in human history, resulting in the deaths of up to 75-125 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The Plague was caused by Yersinia Pestis. The Black Death probably originated in Central Asia or East Asia, from where it travelled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1347. From there, it was most likely carried by fleas living on the black rats that travelled to Genoese on a merchant ships, spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin, reaching the rest of Europe via the Italian Peninsula. The Black Death have killed almost 30-60% of Europe’s population.
3. First Cholera Pandemic (1817–1824):
The first cholera pandemic also known as the first Asiatic cholera pandemic or Asiatic cholera, began near the city of Calcutta and spread throughout Southeast Asia to the Middle East, eastern Africa and the Mediterranean coast. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a result of this pandemic. Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
4. Second Cholera Pandemic (1826–1837):
The second cholera pandemic was a cholera pandemic that reached from India across western Asia to Europe, Great Britain, and the Americas, as well as east to China and Japan. Cholera caused more deaths, more quickly, than any other epidemic disease in the 19th century. Approx. 100000 people lost their lives due to this pandemic.
5. Third Cholera Pandemic (1846–1860):
This was the third major outbreak of cholera originating in India that reached far beyond its borders .In Russia, more than one million people died of cholera. In 1853–54, the epidemic in London claimed over 10,000 lives, and there were 23,000 deaths for all of Great Britain. This pandemic was considered to have the highest fatalities of the 19th-century epidemics.
6. Third Plague Pandemic (1855-1860):
This was a major bubonic plague pandemic that began in Yunnan, China, in 1855 during the fifth year of the Qing dynasty. The episode of bubonic plague spread to all inhabited of the continents, and led to more than 12 million deaths in India and China, out of 12 million, 10 million killed in India alone. According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic was considered active until 1960, when worldwide casualties dropped to 200 per year.
7. Fourth Cholera Pandemic (1863–1875):
The fourth cholera pandemic began in the Ganges Delta of the Bengal region and traveled with Muslim pilgrims to Mecca. In its first year, the epidemic claimed 30,000 of 90,000 pilgrims. Cholera spread throughout the Middle East and was carried to Russia, Europe, Africa and North America.
The pandemic reached Northern Africa in 1865 and spread to sub-Saharan Africa, killing 70,000 in Zanzibar in 1869–70. Cholera claimed 90,000 lives in Russia in 1866. The epidemic of cholera that spread with the Austro-Prussian War (1866) is estimated to have taken 165,000 lives in the Austrian Empire, including 30,000 each in Hungary and Belgium, and 20,000 in the Netherlands. In 1867, Italy lost 113,000 to cholera, and 80,000 died of the disease in Algeria. Outbreaks in North America in the 1870s killed some 50,000 Americans
8. Fifth Cholera Pandemic (1881–1896):
This was the fifth major international outbreak of cholera in the 19th century. It spread throughout Asia and Africa, and reached parts of France, Germany, Russia, and South America. The 1892 outbreak in Hamburg, Germany was the only major European outbreak; about 8,600 people died in that city. Although many residents held the city government responsible for the virulence of the epidemic ( leading to cholera riots in 1893).
This was the last serious European cholera outbreak of the century.
9. Flu Pandemic (1889–1890):
The flu pandemic, also known as the “Asiatic flu” or “Russian flu“, was a deadly influenza pandemic that killed about 1 million people worldwide.
In the modern age, new transports made it easier for influenza viruses to spread around the globe. In just a few months, the disease spanned the globe, killing more than 1 million people all over the world.
The earliest cases were reported in Russia. The virus spread rapidly throughout St. Petersburg before it quickly made its way throughout Europe and the rest of the world, despite the fact that air travel didn’t exist yet.
The virus strain responsible for this pandemic Influenza A virus subtype H3N8.
10. Sixth Cholera Pandemic (1899–1923):
The sixth cholera pandemic began in India ( an outbreak of cholera at the Haridwar Kumbh Mela) where it killed more than 800,000 people, and spreading to the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia.
11. The Spanish Flu (1918-1920):
Also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Started in January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. At Least 17-50 million people died due to this infection. Some people say death toll was much more than 50 million as many of them was unrecorded, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. Most influenza outbreaks killed the very young or the very old, with a higher survival rate for young adults, but the Spanish flu pandemic resulted in a higher than expected mortality rate for young adults.
12. The Asian Flu (1957-1958):
Also known as 1957–58 influenza pandemic was an outbreak of influenza A virus subtype H2N2. It originated in Guizhou, China and killed at least 2 million people worldwide. The disease was estimated to have a 3% rate of complications
13. Seventh Cholera Pandemic (1961–1975):
This was the first major international outbreak of cholera in the 20th century. It first started in Indonesia in 1961 and spread to Bangladesh by 1963. From Bangladesh it went to India (1964) followed by the Soviet Union (1966). Then in July Odessa, Ukraine (1970) and in 1972 it reached to Baku, Azerbaijan. It reached Italy in 1973 from North Africa. Japan and the South Pacific saw a few outbreaks by the late 1970s. In 1971, the number of cases reported worldwide was 155,000. In 1991, it reached 570,000. The spread of the disease was helped by modern transportation and mass migrations.
14. Hong Kong Flu (1968):
The Hong Kong flu (also known as 1968 flu pandemic) was a flu pandemic whose outbreak killed an estimated one million people all over the world. It was caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus.
The first outbreak was reported in Hong Kong appeared on 13 July 1968. By the end of July 1968, outbreaks were reported in Vietnam and Singapore. By September 1968, the flu reached India, the Philippines, northern Australia, and Europe. That same month, the virus entered California from returning Vietnam War troops but did not become widespread in the United States until December 1968. It would reach Japan, Africa, and South America by 1969.However, worldwide deaths from this virus peaked much later, in December 1968 and January 1969.
In comparison to other pandemics, a low death rate with a case-fatality ratio below 0.5% making it a category 2 disease on the Pandemic Severity Index. The pandemic infected an estimated 500,000 Hong Kong residents, 15% of the population.
The same virus returned a year later, in late 1969 and early 1970, and in 1972. The CDC currently estimates that the virus killed 1 million people worldwide and around 100,000 people in the U.S.
15. HIV/AIDS (1981-PRESENT):
AIDS has claimed an estimated 35 million lives since it was first identified and globally 37.9 million people living with HIV till 2018. Each year millions of people die due to HIV. 770,000 died from AIDS in 2018.
AIDS was first recognized in 1981, in 1983 the HIV virus was discovered and identified as the cause of AIDS, and by 2009 AIDS caused nearly 30 million deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the hardest-hit region. HIV infection is becoming endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to just over 12% of the world’s population but two-thirds of all people infected with HIV. The reason behind widespread prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases is the promiscuous culture, the practice of scarification, unsafe blood transfusions, and the poor state of hygiene and nutrition in some areas may all be facilitating factors in the transmission of HIV-1.
16. United Kingdom BSE Outbreak (1980-1990):
It was a widespread occurrence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as BSE or mad cow disease) that affected cows in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s. Over four million cows were destroyed in an effort to contain the outbreak, and 177 people died after contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) through eating infected beef. A political and public health crisis resulted, and British beef was banned from export to numerous countries around the world, with some bans remaining in place until as late as 2019.
17. SARS (2002-2004):
The 2002–2004 SARS outbreak was an pandemic involving severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by SARS-CoV. The outbreak was first identified in Foshan, Guangdong, China, in November 2002. Over 8,000 people from 29 different countries and territories were infected, and at least 774 died worldwide.
18. Swine Flu (2009):
The swine flu pandemic was caused by a new strain of H1N1 that originated in Mexico in the spring of 2009 before spreading to the rest of the world and lasted in August 2010. This was the second of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus (the first being the 1918–1920 Spanish flu pandemic)by albeit a new strain. The virus resulted from a previous triple reassortment of bird, swine, and human flu viruses further combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus, leading to the term “swine flu“. Around 11-21% of the global population at the time or around 700 million to 1.4 billion people (of a total 6.8 billion) contracted the illness. The number of people infected by Swine Flu was greater than the Spanish flu pandemic, but only 150,000 to 575,000 resulted in death. Serious illness resulting from the 2009 H1N1 flu was not higher than that of the yearly seasonal flu as 250,000 to 500,000 people die each year due to seasonal flu.
The 2009 flu pandemic primarily affected children and young adults, and 80% of the deaths were in people younger than 65, the CDC reported. Even in the case of previously healthy people, a small percentage develop pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The virus manifests itself as increased breathing difficulty and typically occurs three to six days after initial onset of flu symptoms. The pneumonia caused by flu can be either direct viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Spread of the H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something—such as a surface or object—with flu viruses on it and then touching their face.
A vaccine for the H1N1 virus that caused the swine flu is now included in the annual flu vaccine
19. Coronavirus Pandemic(2019-present):
Also known as Chines virus Pandemic was first reported in Nov,2019 in Wuhan ,China. China reported this outbreak to WHO on 31 Dec,2019. Till mid of February WHO was not able to find whether it was a epidemic or pandemic. Which resulted in a very swift and wast spread of this disease. The spread of the disease was helped by modern transportation and mass migrations.
Coronaviruses (nCoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) causes Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO on 11 March 2020.
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