Top 10 Pandemics in the History
As the world is suffered from an pandemics named as Covid 19, their has been 764866 confirmed positive cases and 36,864 death has been reported till now. But this is not the first pandemics disease that has been faced by humanity. Here we are again with the list of Top 10 pandemics that has been occurred in the history. Also please read our article of Top 10 Symptoms and Prevention of Covid 19 and Top 10 food to boost immunity against Coronavirus.
#10. Russian Flu
> Death toll: 1 million
> Disease/Cause: Influenza A virus subtype H2N2
> Affected area: Turkestan, Canada, Greenland
> Duration: 1889-1890
The 1889–1890 flu pandemic, better known as the “Russian flu” was a deadly influenza pandemic that killed about 1 million people worldwide.
This was the last great pandemic of the 19th century. It should not be confused with the 1977–1978 pandemics caused by Influenza A/USSR/90/77 H1N1, which was also called Russian flu.
The most reported effects of the pandemic took place October 1889 – December 1890, with recurrences March – June 1891, November 1891 – June 1892, winter 1893–1894 and early 1895. For some time the virus strain responsible was conjectured (but not proven) to be Influenza A virus subtype H2N2. More recently, the strain was asserted to be Influenza A virus subtype H3N8.
The Russian flu outbreak in the 19th century is noteworthy because it was the first major pandemics to strike Europe after railroads were laid down. In 1889, there were already more than 125,000 miles of rail lines connecting European cities, allowing for easier spread of disease. Some authorities identify it with the dengue fever, prevalent in Greece and Turkey.
The Russian doctors call it influenza, the symptoms being fever and headache, accompanied by a running cold.
The number of the sick at the present moment is variously estimated at from 50,000 to 150,000 persons, and, judging by the large number of cases that have come under the personal observation of the Standard’s correspondent, even the highest figure he believes to be much under the mark.
He knows of factories where the work has been stopped, a tramway line that had ceased to run, there are regiments in which a score of officers are laid up, and many households in which every member is ill.
By the time the pandemic was officially termed as over, in early 1894, it has been estimated that it would have claimed the lives of over one million people Worldwide.
#9. Asian Flu
> Death toll: 2 million
> Disease/Cause: Influenza A virus subtype H2N2
> Affected area: China, Singapore, Hong Kong, United States
> Duration: 1957-1958
1957, outbreak of influenza that was first identified in February 1957 in East Asia and that subsequently spread to countries worldwide. The 1957 flu pandemic was the second major influenza pandemic to occur in the 20th century; it followed the influenza pandemic of 1918–19 and preceded the 1968 flu pandemic. The 1957 flu outbreak caused an estimated one million to two million deaths worldwide and is generally considered to have been the least severe of the three influenza pandemics of the 20th century.
The 1957 outbreak was caused by a virus known as influenza A subtype H2N2. Research has indicated that this virus was a reassortant (mixed species) strain, originating from strains of avian influenza and human influenza viruses. In the 1960s the human H2N2 strain underwent a series of minor genetic modifications, a process known as antigenic drift. These slight modifications produced periodic epidemics. After 10 years of evolution, the 1957 flu virus disappeared, having been replaced through antigenic shift by a new influenza A subtype, H3N2, which gave rise to the 1968 flu pandemic.
The H2N2 Asian flu virus was a mixed species strain, originating from strains of avian influenza and human influenza. The pandemic came in two waves, with the second one striking hardest in the U.K. and United States. Thanks to the rapid development of a vaccine as well as the availability of antibiotics to treat secondary infections, the spread of the virus was limited.
In the first months of the 1957 flu pandemic, the virus spread throughout China and surrounding regions. By midsummer it had reached the United States, where it appears to have initially infected relatively few people. Several months later, however, numerous cases of infection were reported, especially in young children, the elderly, and pregnant women.
This upsurge in cases was the result of a second pandemic wave of illness that struck the Northern Hemisphere in November 1957. At that time the pandemic was also already widespread in the United Kingdom. By December a total of some 3,550 deaths had been reported in England and Wales. The second wave was particularly devastating, and by March 1958 an estimated 69,800 deaths had occurred in the United States.
#8. Japanese Smallpox Epidemic
> Death toll: 2-3.5 million (33% to 60% of Japan population)
> Disease/Cause: Smallpox
> Affected area: Japan
> Duration: 735-737
The 735–737 Japanese smallpox epidemic was a major smallpox pandemics that afflicted much of Japan. Killing approximately 1/3 of the entire Japanese population, the pandemics had significant social, economic, and religious repercussions throughout the country. Based on fiscal reports, adult mortality for the smallpox epidemic of 735–737 has been estimated at 25%-35% of Japan’s entire population, with some areas experiencing much higher rates. All levels of society were affected.
The smallpox demon comes from Japanese culture and believed to be the source of all smallpox epidemics in Japan. In medieval times, people would try to appease or attack the demon since there was no other source of reliable, effective treatment.
According to records, smallpox was introduced into Japan in 735 from Korea. In the early days, smallpox was considered to come from “onryo” which is a mythological spirit from Japanese folklore. This spirit supposedly was able to return to the physical world to seek vengeance.
Japanese locals adopted some customs to help deal with the vengeful demon.
It was believed that smallpox demons were afraid of the color red as well as dogs. This led to a tradition where people would display dolls either dressed in red clothing or simply painted red.
Those in Okinawa, who tried to appease the demon, did so by trying to comfort them. They used the sanshin, a musical instrument, and performed ‘lion dances’ before a patient who wore red clothes. During the ritual, flowers were offered and incense was burned in an attempt to appease the demon.
#7. Antonine Plague
> Death toll: 5 million
> Disease/Cause: Unknown-Smallpox or measles
> Affected area: Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, and Italy
> Duration: A.D. 165
When we talk about ”the” plague, we’re usually talking about the one that killed off millions of Europeans in the medieval era. It was a big deal. However, it was not the only pandemics to reshape European history. Around 165 CE, a mysterious disease broke out across the Roman Empire. Referred to as the “Antonine Plague”, this pandemics did what hordes of roving armies could not. It nearly broke the Roman Empire apart.
In 165 CE, Rome was flourishing. The empire was shared between two co-rulers, the philosopher-warriors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Verus was just returning from what is now Iran after quelling a renewed rebellion among the Parthians. He brought with him massive spoils of war, including the treasures of the Parthian temples. Unknowingly, however, his troops had picked up another souvenir in West Asia. They were carrying a disease which had severely impacted East Asia years before.
As the army marched back to Rome, the disease manifested and spread everywhere they went, first in Asia Minor, then Greece, and finally into Italy itself. The mysterious pandemics spread like wildfire, particularly through the densely populated Roman cities of Italy. The Romans controlled the entire Mediterranean, and as their trading ships and armies busily swarmed across it, so did the disease. For the next two decades, the Roman Empire was racked with an outbreak unlike anything it had ever seen. The disease slowed after 180 CE, but flared up again in 189 before finally settling down.
At the height of the pandemics, there were fatalities of up to 2,000 people per day, according to Roman sources. In total, about 7-10% of the population of the Roman Empire was killed, expanding from Spain and Italy to Greece, Asia Minor, and even Egypt and North Africa. In dense urban centers, fatality rates may have been as high as 15%. Even the emperors may not have been spared. Lucius Verus died in 169 CE, and Marcus Aurelius died in 180 CE. It has been speculated that both deaths were caused by the disease.
#6. Aztec Epidemic
> Death toll: 12-15 million
> Disease/Cause: Hemorrhagic fevers/smallpox
> Affected area: Mexico
> Duration: 1545-1548
From 1545 to 1550, Aztecs in what is today southern Mexico experienced a deadly outbreak. Anywhere from five to 15 million people died. Locally, it was known as cocoliztli, but the exact cause or causes has been a mystery for the past 500 years.
The symptoms were unlike anything the doctors of the time had seen. Victims turned yellow from jaundice, and blood ran from their ears and noses. They had hallucinations and agonizing convulsions. They died in days. Aztecs called it the cocoliztli, meaning pestilence in the local Nahuatl language. “The cocoliztli appeared from almost nowhere. Nobody knew what it was,” says Rodolfo Acuña-Soto, a historical epidemiologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.
Even today, nobody knows what exactly was responsible for the pandemics, which first appeared in Mexico, then called New Spain, in the 16th century and killed an estimated 45% of the entire native population. Historical records suggest it was some type of hemorrhagic fever—like Ebola—but DNA evidence published this week suggests the culprit might have been salmonella—a common food-borne illness—brought by European colonizers. The evidence was tucked in the teeth of 29 skeletons unearthed from the ruins of an ancient city archaeologists call Teposcolula Yucundaa in the Oaxaca region of Mexico.
Bos and her colleagues drilled into the skeletons’ teeth and extracted DNA from that inner chamber. Once they had sequenced all the DNA, the team began comparing strands against a large database of modern bacterial pathogens. Their analysis matched the DNA fragments to Salmonella enterica, they report in Nature Ecology & Evolution. This type of salmonella, paratyphi C, can cause enteric fever, a serious bacterial infection also known as typhoid or paratyphoid fever.
It’s harder to tell whether the salmonella alone killed these people, Poinar says. “I’m buying that it likely contributed to this pandemics. Is that what they died of? I’d be careful of saying that.” Perhaps salmonella was simply one of multiple infections that together became deadlier and caused cocoliztli, he says.
#5. Third Plague
> Death toll: 12-15 million
> Disease/Cause: Bubonic plague
> Affected area: Worldwide
> Duration: 1855-1950s
Many people are aware of the Black Death that ravaged Medieval Europe and killed about half of the population, but fewer people know that Europe was also hit by the plague during the third plague pandemic, which started in 1894 when it spread out of Honk Kong to the rest of the world – including Europe. This episode of bubonic plague spread to all inhabited continents, and ultimately led to more than 1 million deaths in India and China, with about 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. Casualty patterns indicate that waves of this late-19th-century/early-20th-century pandemic may have come from two different sources. The first was primarily bubonic and was carried around the world through ocean-going trade, through transporting infected persons, rats, and cargoes harboring fleas. The second, more virulent strain, was primarily pneumonic in character with a strong person-to-person contagion. This strain was largely confined to Asia, in particular Manchuria and Mongolia.
At the beginning of the Third Pandemic, physicians and scientists used new methods to increase their knowledge of plague, including microbiological and experimental techniques . From the late 1800s, Lowry , Rocher and Yersin, among others, observed a connection between human and rat plague mortality during pandemics in India and China, suggesting that black rats were involved in transmission. T
his observation was later confirmed by Simond, who demonstrated in 1897 that rat-fleas were vectors for the disease. The prevailing view among researchers in the Indo-Pacific region, including Thompson who observed plague outbreaks in Sydney, Hunter who reported on plague in Hong Kong and those of the Indian Plague Commission, was that black rats played an important role in the spread of plague, both as hosts in the chain of transmission and as carriers of the disease on ships. When plague was introduced to Europe during the Third Pandemic, rats were heavily scrutinized by European health authorities when plague cases were discovered.
#4. Spanish Flu
> Death toll: 20 million
> Disease/Cause: Influenza (H1N1)
> Affected area: Europe, United States
> Duration: 1918-1919
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating pandemics in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as “Spanish Flu” or “La Grippe” the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global disaster.
In the fall of 1918 the Great War in Europe was winding down and peace was on the horizon. The Americans had joined in the fight, bringing the Allies closer to victory against the Germans. Deep within the trenches these men lived through some of the most brutal conditions of life, which it seemed could not be any worse. Then, in pockets across the globe, something erupted that seemed as benign as the common cold.
The influenza of that season, however, was far more than a cold. In the two years that this scourge ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world’s population was infected. The flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. This pattern of morbidity was unusual for influenza which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. It infected 28% of all Americans (Tice).
An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war. Of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe, half of them fell to the influenza virus and not to the enemy (Deseret News). An estimated 43,000 servicemen mobilized for WWI died of influenza (Crosby). 1918 would go down as unforgettable year of suffering and death and yet of peace.
The effect of the influenza epidemic was so severe that the average life span in the US was depressed by 10 years. The influenza virus had a profound virulence, with a mortality rate at 2.5% compared to the previous influenza epidemics, which were less than 0.1%. The death rate for 15 to 34-year-olds of influenza and pneumonia were 20 times higher in 1918 than in previous years (Taubenberger). People were struck with illness on the street and died rapid deaths.
> Death toll: 39 million
> Disease/Cause: HIV/AIDS
> Affected area: Worldwide
> Duration: 1960-Till Now
Since the first cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were reported in 1981, infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has grown to pandemic proportions, resulting in an estimated 65 million infections and 25 million deaths. During 2005 alone, an estimated 2.8 million persons died from AIDS, 4.1 million were newly infected with HIV, and 38.6 million were living with HIV. HIV continues to disproportionately affect certain geographic regions (e.g., sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean) and subpopulations (e.g., women in sub-Saharan Africa, men who have sex with men, injection-drug users, and sex workers). Effective prevention and treatment of HIV infection with antiretroviral therapy (ART) are now available, even in countries with limited resources. Nonetheless, comprehensive programs are needed to reach all persons who require treatment and to prevent transmission of new infections.
From 2003 to 2005, estimates of adult HIV prevalence were lowered in many countries. Some of these reductions might be attributable to the addition of new surveillance sites and population-based surveys that provide better estimates in rural populations, which usually have lower HIV prevalence.
During 2003–2005, substantial gains were made in the number of persons receiving ART in resource-limited countries. The “3 by 5” initiative, a strategy of the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, sought to provide treatment to 3 million persons (50% of those in need of treatment worldwide) in low- and middle-income countries by 2005.
#2. Justinian Plague
> Death toll: 100 million
> Disease/Cause: Bubonic plague
> Affected area: China, northern Africa, Mediterranean countries
> Duration: A.D. 541-542
The Plague of Justinian (541–542 AD, with recurrences until 750) was a pandemic that afflicted the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and especially afflicted its capital, Constantinople, as well as the Sasanian Empire and port cities which were located around the entire Mediterranean Sea, as merchant ships harbored rats that carried fleas that were infected with plague. Some historians believe that the plague of Justinian was one of the deadliest pandemics in history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 25–100 million people during two centuries of recurrence, a death toll that was equivalent to as much as half of Europe’s population at the time of the first outbreak. The plague’s social and cultural impact has been compared to that of the Black Death that devastated Eurasia in the fourteenth century, but research which was published in 2019 argued that the plague’s death toll and social effects have been exaggerated.
In 2013, researchers confirmed earlier speculation that the cause of the Plague of Justinian was Yersinia pestis, the same bacterium that was responsible for the Black Death (1347–1351). The latter was much shorter, but still killed an estimated one-third to one-half of Europeans. Ancient and modern Yersinia pestis strains which are closely related to the ancestor of the Justinian plague strain have been found in Tian Shan, a system of mountain ranges which is located on the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China, which suggests that the Justinian plague may have originated either in or near that region.
The plague periodically returned until the eighth century. The waves of disease had a major effect on the subsequent course of European history. Modern historians named this plague incident after Justinian I, who was emperor at the time of the initial outbreak. Justinian himself contracted the disease, but survived.
#1. Black Death
> Death toll: 50 million-200 million
> Disease/Cause: Bubonic plague
> Affected area: Europe
> Duration: 1346-1350
The Black Death was a devastating global pandemics of bubonic plague that struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s. The plague arrived in Europe in October 1347, when 12 ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port of Messina. People gathered on the docks were met with a horrifying surprise: Most sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those still alive were gravely ill and covered in black boils that oozed blood and pus. Sicilian authorities hastily ordered the fleet of “death ships” out of the harbor, but it was too late: Over the next five years, the Black Death would kill more than 20 million people in Europe—almost one-third of the continent’s population.
Even before the “death ships” pulled into port at Messina, many Europeans had heard rumors about a “Great Pestilence” that was carving a deadly path across the trade routes of the Near and Far East. Indeed, in the early 1340s, the disease had struck China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt.
Gene sequencing data has since shown that the Plague originated in China over 2,000 years ago and was likely spread by trading ships. The Black Death was terrifyingly, indiscriminately contagious: “the mere touching of the clothes,” wrote Boccaccio, “appeared to itself to communicate the malady to the toucher.” The disease was also terrifyingly efficient. People who were perfectly healthy when they went to bed at night could be dead by morning.
Because they did not understand the biology of the disease, many people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment—retribution for sins against God such as greed, blasphemy, heresy, fornication and worldliness.
The plague never really ended and it returned with a vengeance 800 years later. But officials in the Venetian-controlled port city of Ragusa were able to slow its spread by keeping arriving sailors in isolation until it was clear they were not carrying the disease—creating social distancing that relied on isolation to slow the spread of the disease.
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