The most

The most famous epidemics in the world


In disaster films, one can come across a scenario where all of humanity on the planet is dying of an epidemic. For the modern world, with advanced medicine and vaccination, this option seems unrealistic.

However, a hundred years ago, people were dying of diseases from millions, and human life meant almost nothing. Diseases did not care about great civilizations, royal blood or wealth - everyone who was infected died, and even medicine at that time did not help stop the epidemics.

Throughout history, hundreds of millions of people have died from mass epidemics. The cities completely died out, there was no one to bury the body, since there simply were no survivors. European countries in the Middle Ages suffered the most.

Epidemics became the cause of the fall of civilizations, for example, most of the indigenous population of Meso America died not only from the bullets of the Europeans, but also from the diseases that they brought themselves. For example, the 25 millionth Aztec nation was almost completely destroyed over the course of a century. Moreover, 80% of the population died of typhoid fever - a disease that the conquistadors brought with them.

What other epidemics have destroyed humanity throughout history? This collection contains the most deadly epidemics in the world!

1 Justinian plague

One of the first pandemics that remained in history was the disease, which was called the Justinian plague. This was the first officially confirmed epidemic of plague, which swept the entire civilized society at that time. She was nicknamed in honor of Emperor Justinian I, who ruled in Byzantium at the time of the appearance of this terrible disease. It began around 540 and lasted almost 200 years.

This plague originated in Egypt and with seafarers spread throughout the Mediterranean. The Byzantine Empire was the first to suffer, where 5,000 people died every day. Of course, the number of victims is hard to say for sure, but both saints and kings perished from the disease. In total, according to approximate estimates, the plague epidemic in the VI-VII centuries claimed 125 million lives. About 40% of the population died in Constantinople, and from there the plague advanced into Europe. But after 60 years (approximately) the infection subsided, and only rare foci of the disease remained.

2 black death

The second officially registered pandemic was “black death” - that’s the name of the bubonic plague that raged in the 14th century in Europe and Asia. It began in 1346 and lasted actively for about 8 years, and then flared up with foci in different parts of Europe and Asia. It is believed that black death greatly influenced the development of medieval Europe.

Scientists have found that the bubonic plague (the so-called disease due to inflammation of the lymph nodes) was provoked by a small ice age in the Gobi Desert. From there, the plague spread to India and China, and with Mongolian merchants to Europe. In total, 60 million people became victims of the bubonic plague, in some places the death toll was half the population.

3 Spanish flu

However, one of the most deadly epidemics can be considered the one that was raging in the world recently. This is the Spanish flu, which can be called the most massive and fleeting pandemic in history. In the 18 months that the disease has spread, almost 30% of the world's population - 550 million people have been infected. Of these, 50 to 100 million people died, according to rough estimates.

The disease, which quickly grew into a pandemic, began in the last months of World War I, in 1918. Martial law helped spread flu quickly across countries, but Spain was the first to report the epidemic, which is why the disease was called Spanish. In the last months of the war, troops moved around the territory and quickly spread the disease. In the first six months, the account of victims exceeded 25 million, and the total number of deaths in various sources reaches 100 million people.

The most significant recent epidemics and pandemics

Epidemics1972—1973H3n2A / England / 72
1976H3n2A / Victoria / 75
1977H3n2A / Texas / 77
2003H5n1Bird flu
1957H2N2Asian flu
1968H3n2Hong kong flu
1976A / H1N1Swine flu
2009H1n1Swine flu


Plague is an acute natural focal infectious disease of the group of quarantine infections, proceeding with an extremely severe general condition, fever, damage to lymph nodes, lungs and other internal organs, often with the development of sepsis. The disease is characterized by high mortality and extremely high infectivity. Mortality with the bubonic form of the plague reached 95%, with pulmonary - 98-99%. Currently, with proper treatment, mortality does not exceed 5-10%. The causative agent is the plague wand, discovered in 1894 by two scientists at the same time: the Frenchman Alexander Yersen and the Japanese Kitasato Sibasaburo. To date, in many countries a number of natural foci have been preserved, in which plague is regularly observed in rodents living there, as well as sporadic cases of infection with human plague occur.

Famous plague pandemics that claimed millions of lives left a deep mark on human history:

  • Justinian's plague (541-700 years) - began in Egypt and spread over the entire civilized world of that time. About 100 million people died, Byzantium lost about half the population.
  • Black death is a crushing pandemic of 1347-1351, which began in Eastern China and passed throughout Europe in the middle of the XIV century. According to the apt remark of G. Geser (1867), “black death”, even if it evaded the usual picture of the plague, is only because it combined all those phenomena that were apart in various plague epidemics. Killed up to 34 million people (a third of the population of Europe).
  • The third pandemic - if the first and second pandemics resembled a wildfire that erupted over a vast territory for 5 years, the awareness of the third pandemic did not come right away: by the beginning of the official recognition of the third pandemic, indications of plague epidemics in the mountain valleys of Yunnan came to Europe for more than 50 years , and the official start of the pandemic is considered one of the epidemics in Canton that periodically erupts there since 1850. Over the 10 years of the pandemic (1894–1904), the plague especially broke out in China and India (only 6 million people died in India), and also spread to all continents thanks to merchant ships in the form of relatively small-scale outbreaks that did not, however, lead to epidemics comparable in scale to the epidemics of the Middle Ages.

The most famous epidemics in the world

Any coming of an epidemic meant a new turn in history. Because, such a huge number of victims that caused deadly diseases could not go unnoticed. The most striking cases of epidemics have come down to us through the centuries in historical chronicles ...

Known flu epidemics

The flu virus is constantly being modified, so it’s so hard to find a panacea for the treatment of this dangerous disease. There are several flu epidemics known in world history that have claimed millions of lives.

"Spaniard" was another shock for the population of Europe after the First World War. This deadly disease raged in 1918 and is considered one of the strongest pandemics in history. More than 30 percent of the world's population has been infected with this virus; more than 100 million infections have been fatal.

The Spanish epidemic in Europe mowed all in a row

At that time, in order to avoid panic in society, the governments of most countries took any measures to hush up the scale of the disaster. Only in Spain was the news of the epidemic reliable and objective. Therefore, subsequently, the disease received the popular name "Spaniard". Later, this flu strain was called H1N1.

The first data on bird flu appeared in 1878. Then he was described by a veterinarian from Italy Eduardo Perronchito. The strain H5N1 got its modern name in 1971. And the first recorded human virus infection was recorded in 1997 in Hong Kong. Then the virus was transmitted from bird to person. 18 people fell ill, 6 of them died. A new outbreak occurred in 2005 in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia. Then 112 people suffered, 64 died.

Avian influenza - a known disease in recent history

From 2003 to 2008, the bird flu virus claimed another 227 lives. And if it’s too early to talk about the epidemic of this type of flu, then you can’t forget about the danger in any case, since a person does not have immunity from mutated viruses.

Another dangerous type of flu is swine flu, or Mexican, or North American flu. A pandemic of the disease was announced in 2009. The disease was first recorded in Mexico, after which it rapidly began to spread throughout the world, reaching even the coast of Australia.

Swine strain is one of the most famous and dangerous flu viruses.

This type of flu has been assigned a 6th degree of threat. However, there are many skeptics in the world who were suspicious of the “epidemic”. As an assumption, a collusion of pharmaceutical companies was put forward, which was supported by WHO.

Known epidemics of terrible diseases

Bubonic Plague or Black Death

The most famous pandemic in the history of civilization. The plague "mowed" the population of Europe in the 14th century. The main signs of this terrible disease were bleeding ulcers and high fever. According to historians, the Black Death claimed the lives of 75 to 200 million people. Europe is half empty. For more than a hundred years, the bubonic plague appeared in different places, spreading death and ruin after itself. The last outbreak was recorded in the 1600s in London.

This disease broke out in 541 in Byzantium. It is difficult to talk about the exact number of victims, however, according to average estimates, this outbreak of the plague claimed about 100 million lives. So, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, every fourth died. Soon the plague spread throughout the civilized world, right up to China.

Ancient plague spread like a pandemic

This pandemic had grave consequences for the whole of Europe, however, the once great Byzantine Empire suffered the greatest losses, which could not recover from such a blow and soon fell into decay.

Smallpox is now defeated by scientists. However, in the past, regular epidemics of this disease devastated the planet. According to one version, it was smallpox that caused the death of Inca and Aztec civilizations. It is believed that the tribes weakened by the disease allowed the Spanish troops to conquer themselves.

Smallpox epidemic now almost never happens

Also, smallpox did not spare Europe. A particularly bright outbreak in the 18th century took the lives of 60 million people.

Seven Pandemic Cholera

Seven pandemic cholera stretched in history from 1816 to 1960. The first cases were recorded in India, the main cause of infection was unsanitary living conditions. About 40 million people died from cholera there. Cholera brought many deaths in Europe.

Cholera epidemics are considered one of the worst

Now, practical medicine has defeated this once-fatal disease. And only in rare cases of neglected cholera leads to death.

The disease is characterized by the fact that it spreads mainly in tight conditions. So, only in the 20th century millions of people died from typhus. Most often, typhoid epidemics broke out during the war - on the front lines and in concentration camps.

The worst epidemic in the world today

In February 2014, the world was stirred up by a new pandemic threat - the Ebola virus. The first cases of the disease were recorded in Guinea, after which the fever quickly spread to neighboring states - Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal. This outbreak has now been called the strongest in the history of the Ebola virus.

Ebola epidemic is considered the most dangerous to date.

The mortality rate from Ebola fever, according to WHO, reaches 90%, and to date, doctors do not have an effective cure for the virus. More than 2700 people in West Africa have already died from this disease and the epidemic continues to spread around the world ...

4 Third plague pandemic

The bubonic plague has tormented humanity for centuries, but historians share three pandemics. The third occurred in 1855, and it began in the Chinese province of Yunnan.

It lasted until the middle of the 20th century, and was marked by the fact that during this period the causative agent of the disease was finally discovered and weapons against the plague were found. Over the past few decades, more than 12 million people have died in China and India.

HIV infection

HIV is a human immunodeficiency virus that causes a disease with a long incubation period - HIV infection, the last stage of which is known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In the countries most affected by HIV and AIDS, a pandemic impedes economic growth and increases poverty.

  • HIV - According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), between 1981 and 2006, 25 million people died from diseases related to HIV and AIDS. By early 2007, around 40 million people (0.66% of the world's population) were HIV-infected worldwide.

5 smallpox

The first acquaintance with smallpox for humanity occurred in the 4th millennium BC. Since then, in one region, then in another, outbreaks of this epidemic arose. For example, in 737, 30% of Japanese became extinct from this disease.

It is believed that one of the ten Egyptian executions was precisely smallpox. It tormented humanity throughout history, and contemporaries wrote that smallpox is even worse than the plague, because the plague comes for a short time, and smallpox constantly destroys people. Every year in Europe, about 1.5 million people died from this disease.

6 Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is not so deadly these days, but humanity has been familiar with it for a very long time. A recently published study, during which traces of tuberculosis were found in the remains of animals aged 245 million years. Only in 1882, Robert Koch identified the pathogen, which was named in his honor.

However, it was not possible to completely defeat the disease; at the moment, it is estimated that approximately 30% of the world's population is infected. In 2007, 1.8 million people died of tuberculosis, and while there are slums on the planet, there is no way to get rid of this disease.

7 English sweat

There are still puzzles that scientists and researchers could not solve. For example, an epidemic of a disease raging in Tudor England called English sweat. The epidemic began immediately after the accession of Henry VII to the throne.

The disease had a very high mortality rate and raged in England, Ireland and other countries until 1551. It is believed that Anna Boleyn (the future Queen of England, executed by Henry VIII) was able to survive the disease.

8 Typhoid fever

Typhoid fever was a separate disease until the 19th century, but was later divided into three main groups. This disease, like smallpox, has always been close to a person, and annually claimed many lives.

It was from typhoid fever that the Aztec civilization and other Indian tribes died. Typhoid brought them Europeans, like many other deadly diseases that were previously unfamiliar with epidemics. Typhoid fever is not uncommon in our days, for example, in 2000, 21 million people were ill with it.

9 Cholera

This disease has been familiar to humanity for a long time, but a series of pandemics began only at the beginning of the XIX century. In those years, it was one of the deadliest and most dangerous diseases that claimed millions of lives. In total, from 1816 to 1975, seven cholera pandemics were recorded.

Even today, the disease has not completely disappeared. For example, in 2010, 9,700 people died in Haiti, and 7% of the population was ill at that time. Most often, people from poor countries get cholera.

10 HIV infection

The real scourge of modern life, an epidemic that is slowly killing people's lives - is HIV infection. Since 1981, over a period of 25 years, this disease has claimed the lives of more than 25 million people. According to 2007 data, the number of HIV-infected people exceeded 40 million. Timely treatment and modern therapy helps patients live up to 80 years.

In the modern world of diseases it has become much less, but nevertheless in the distressed countries of the third world people continue to suffer from epidemics. Vaccination significantly reduced mortality from diseases of the past, but did not completely eliminate them.

In general, we can say that diseases claimed a huge number of lives - all statistics are approximate, because before human life was not particularly valuable.

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Watch the video: Top 10 Worst Epidemics in History (April 2020).