The progress of mankind has been punctuated with some deadliest pandemics. Several ominous diseases have decimated a large chunk of the population of earth. These diseases – termed as a Pandemics – are infectious spreading through large regions, for instance, multiple continents or even worldwide. In most cases the breakout is severe and rapid bringing humanity to its knees, gasping for survival. Here is a compilation of some of the most harrowing pandemics which are known to have had a devastating impact on humanity.
10. The Peloponnesian War Pestilence:
The Peloponnesian War Pestilence, as described by the Ancient Greek historian Thucydides, was a infection that consumed more than 30000 citizens in Athens, the capital of Greece. The typical signs of this disease as described by the ancient philosopher were inflammation of the eyes, inflammation of the throat and tongue, foul breath and unusually high fevers. It is often been considered as a plague breakout and the bubonic plague has been named by a lot of historians. However there are also compelling evidences to suggest that it was some other disease hence it can be said that the origins of the pestilence are not very clearly known.
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9. The Black Death:
The Black Death is one of the worst and among the deadliest pandemics in human history. It was at its peak in Europe from 1348 to 1350. It nearly took more than one fourth of the world’s population in the 14th century spreading from Europe to Asia and affecting the entire world. The continent of Europe was worst affected by it and the mourning for the Black Death went on for more than a hundred years. The European cities were ravaged as their populations went down rapidly. Besides that the plague is also known to have caused a lot of social, economic and political turmoil.
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8. The Plague of Justinian:
The Plague of Justinian affected the Eastern part of the Roman Empire from 541 to 542 AD. Also known as the first recorded instance of the Bubonic plague, the Plague of Justinian was the cause of what is one of the greatest pandemics to have hit the world. The Bubonic plague, which was also the cause of the Black Death in the 14th century, killed more than 50 million people all around the world. On its worst days it is claimed to have claimed more than 5000 lives a day wiping out the entire populations of cities in a matter of days.
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Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest pandemics and is caused by ptotists which is a microorganism that resides among mosquitoes. It is propagated by the bite of a mosquito. It was a common disease in Europe and North America in the past but has been flushed out now. The end of the great Roman Empire is also said to have been caused by this dreaded disease. Malaria outbreaks have killed people in great numbers many times in the past. During the American Civil War too it claimed more than a million lives causing heavy losses to both sides. The successful prevention of this disease requires getting rid of mosquito breeding grounds. Malaria is still prevalent in underdeveloped and developing nations.
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6. The Antonine Plague:
The Plague of Galen was an ancient pandemic which occurred from AD 165 to AD 180 and was either smallpox or measles. It was also known as the Antonine Plague. The pandemic claimed to have caused more than 2000 deaths a day in Rome. The total number of deaths that this pandemic claimed is estimated at around 5 million and is one of the most devastating pandemics to hit the ancient glory of Rome. No one, from commoners to royals, was spared the wrath of this disease. It is believed to have claimed the lives of more than 1/3rd of the Roman population at the time.
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Pandemic Typhus is also called camp fever, jail fever, and war fever. It is a disease that is usually found in crowded areas as it is transmitted by a type of body lice. It was common in many of the overcrowded ships, the concentration camps, prisons and jails. One of the severest attacks of this disease was during the Napoleonic Wars and also during the Potato Famine in Ireland from 1846-49. It is a disease that is associated with improper hygiene and terrible conditions of living.
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The influenza virus caused its first pandemic in 1918 and was popularly known as Spanish flu because of the speculation that the disease had originated in Spain. However it was in North America that it was first registered and then it gradually spread to Europe and later Spain. It has killed tens of millions of people as the virus itself has eluded human medical science. There are new types of influenza that are discovered even in the present day in the 21st century. The severity of such influenza strains has been seen in several parts of the world but the pandemic that happened in 1918 was among the worst.
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3. First Cholera Pandemic:
The first cholera pandemic happened from 1817 to 1824, is also known as the first Asiatic cholera pandemic or Asiatic cholera. It first began at a place began near Kolkata (then called Calcutta) and spread to Southeast Asia then to the Middle East, eastern Africa and then to Mediterranean coast. The First Cholera Pandemic was the first in a series of cholera infestations that happened in central and south Asia. Such was the impact of this pandemic that the number of deaths in every country across its path of terror was up in the hundreds of thousands.
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HIV is one of the deadliest pandemics of the modern world. It is one of the most dangerous kinds of diseases and it comes from the virus which is known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which directly attacks the immune system of the body and leaves it hapless to even the smallest of infections or intrusions by bacteria and other pathogens. It is widely considered as a pandemic which affected 34 million people in 2010. Since it was identified for the first time in 1981, AIDS has caused more than 30 million deaths.
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Leprosy also sometimes called Wopat’s disease and sometimes Hansen’s disease is caused by a bacteria. Mycobacterium Leprae causes a chronic disease that can take as much as five years to show up properly. Leprosy is one of the oldest known mass diseases and has been around since 600 BC. Estimates suggest that more than one million people are left disabled because of this disease. The number of leprosy cases that were discovered in 2002 shocked the entire world as more than 750,000 cases were found. In thirteenth century Europe Leprosy is said to have caused more than 19000 deaths.
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