According to World Health Organization (WHO), a pandemic is “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” Since times immemorial, human beings are fighting infectious diseases that emerged in the form of a pandemic. In 2020, Covid-19 has shown how helpless we can get during such an outbreak. It is yet another example of a pandemic and when the world will recover completely, no one knows, although vaccines have been introduced in the market. Moreover, the pandemic situation has brought many changes in the way society functions. Like covid-19, other pandemics have also reshaped societies in the past. These pandemics have killed millions of people and affected empires and democracies alike. Here is a list of a few such pandemics that shocked humans before the covid-19 situation. These outbreaks were simply massive in scale and were very dangerous. Thankfully, humans fought well and survived through each pandemic situation.
The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality, or the Plague) was a bubonic plague pandemic occurring in Afro-Eurasia from 1346–53. It is the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, resulting in the deaths of up to 75–200 million people in Eurasia and North Africa, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. Bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, but it may also cause septicaemic or pneumonic plagues.
The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 influenza pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. Lasting from February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a third of the world’s population at the time – in four successive...Read More
Plague of Justinian
The Plague of Justinian or Justinianic Plague (541–549 AD) was the beginning of the first plague pandemic, the first Old World pandemic of plague, the contagious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The disease afflicted the entire Mediterranean Basin, Europe, and the Near East, severely...Read More
HIV/AIDS, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is considered by some authors a global pandemic. However, the WHO currently uses the term ‘global epidemic’ to describe HIV. As of 2018, approximately 37.9 million people are infected with HIV globally. There were about 770,000 deaths from AIDS...Read More
Third plague pandemic
The third plague pandemic was a major bubonic plague pandemic that began in Yunnan, China, in 1855 during the fifth year of the Xianfeng Emperor of the Qing dynasty. This episode of bubonic plague spread to all inhabited continents, and ultimately led to more than 12 million (perhaps 15 million) deaths...Read More
1545-48 / 1576-80
The cocoliztli epidemic or the great pestilence is a term given to millions of deaths in the territory of New Spain in present-day Mexico in the 16th century attributed to one or more illnesses collectively called cocoliztli, a mysterious illness characterized by high fevers and bleeding. It ravaged...Read More
The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (after Galen, the physician who described it), was an ancient pandemic brought to the Roman Empire by troops who were returning from campaigns in the Near East. Scholars have suspected it to have been either smallpox or measles....Read More
Mexican Smallpox Outbreak
The history of smallpox in Mexico spans approximately 500 years from the arrival of the Spanish to the official eradication in 1951. It was brought to Mexico by those in Spanish ships, then spread to the center of Mexico, where it became a significant factor in the fall of Tenochtitlan. During the...Read More
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters where civil life is disrupted. Though typhus has been responsible for millions of deaths throughout history, it is still considered a rare disease that occurs mainly in populations...Read More
1957–1958 influenza pandemic
The 1957–1958 Asian flu pandemic was a global pandemic of influenza A virus subtype H2N2 that originated in Guizhou in southern China. The number of deaths caused by the 1957–1958 pandemic is estimated between one and four million worldwide, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history. A decade later, a reassorted viral strain H3N2 further caused the Hong Kong flu pandemic (1968-1969).
Hong Kong flu
The Hong Kong flu, also known as the 1968 flu pandemic, was a flu pandemic whose outbreak in 1968 and 1969 killed between one and four million people globally. It is among the deadliest pandemics in history, and was caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, which is descended from H2N2 (caused the Asian flu pandemic in 1957-1958) through antigenic shift—a genetic process in which genes from multiple subtypes are reassorted to form a new virus.
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization declared...Read More
Japanese smallpox epidemic
The Japanese Smallpox (735 –737) epidemic was a major smallpox epidemic that engulfed much of Japan, accounting for about 1/3 of the entire Japanese population. The epidemic had significant social, economic, and religious consequences throughout the country.
The Persian plague epidemic of 1772–1773, also simply known as the Persian Plague, was a massive outbreak of plague, more specifically Bubonic plague, in the Persian Empire, which claimed around 2 million lives in total. It was one of the most devastating Plague epidemics in recorded human history. The outbreak resulted in the introduction of several quarantine measures for the first time in the Persian Gulf regions.
The Naples Plague refers to a plague in Italy between 1656–1658 that nearly eradicated the population of Naples. The plague epidemic affected mostly central and southern Italy, killing up to 1,250,000 people throughout the Kingdom of Naples according to some estimates. In Naples alone, approximately...Read More
The Italian Plague of 1629–1631 was a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague that ravaged northern and central Italy. This epidemic, often referred to as the Great Plague of Milan, claimed possibly one million lives, or about 25% of the population. This episode is considered one of the later outbreaks...Read More
1889–1890 Flu Pandemic
The 1889–1890 flu pandemic, also known as the “Asiatic flu” or “Russian flu”, was a pandemic that killed about 1 million people worldwide, out of a population of about 1.5 billion. It was the last great pandemic of the 19th century, and is among the deadliest pandemics in history.
Plague of Athens
429-26 ई. पू.
The Plague of Athens was an epidemic that devastated the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece during the second year (430 BC) of the Peloponnesian War when an Athenian victory still seemed within reach. The plague killed an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 people, around one quarter of the population,...Read More
412 BC epidemic
412 ई. पू.
The 412 BC epidemic of an unknown disease, often identified as influenza, was reported in Northern Greece by Hippocrates and in Rome by Livy. Both described the epidemic continuing for roughly a year. The disease outbreak caused a food shortage in the Roman Republic, and a famine was only prevented with food relief from Sicily and Etruria, and via trade missions to the “peoples round about who dwelt on the Tuscan sea or by the Tiber.”
Plague of Cyprian
The Plague of Cyprian was a pandemic that afflicted the Roman Empire about from AD 249 to 262. The plague is thought to have caused widespread manpower shortages for food production and the Roman army, severely weakening the empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. Its modern name commemorates...Read More
The Roman Plague of 590 was an epidemic of plague that affected the city of Rome in the year 590. Probably bubonic plague, it was part of the first plague pandemic that followed the great plague of Justinian, which began in the 540s and may have killed more than 100 million Europeans before spreading to other parts of the world and which lasted until the end of Late Antiquity. The plague was described by the bishop and chronicler Gregory of Tours and later chronicler Paul the Deacon.
Plague of Sheroe
The Plague of Sheroe (627–628) or Sheroe’s Plague was an epidemic that devastated the western provinces of the Sasanian Empire, mainly Mesopotamia (Asorestan), killing half of its population, including the reigning Sasanian king (shah) which the plague is named after, Kavad II Sheroe (r. 628).
Plague of Amwas
The plague of Amwas, also spelled plague of Emmaus, was a bubonic plague epidemic that afflicted Islamic Syria in 638–639, during the first plague pandemic and toward the end of the Muslim conquest of the region. It was likely a reemergence of the mid-6th-century Plague of Justinian. Called after...Read More
Plague of 664
The plague of 664 was an epidemic that affected the British Isles in 664 AD, during the first plague pandemic. It was the first recorded epidemic in English history, and coincided with a solar eclipse. It was referred to by later sources as “The Yellow Plague of 664″[This quote needs a...Read More
Sweating sickness, also known as the sweats, English sweating sickness or English sweat or Latin: sudor anglicus, was a mysterious and contagious disease that struck England and later continental Europe in a series of epidemics beginning in 1485. The last outbreak occurred in 1551, after which the...Read More
1563 / 1592-93 / 1603 / 1665-66
In 1563, London experienced its worst episode of plague during the sixteenth century. At least 20,136 people in London and surrounding parishes were recorded to have died of plague during the outbreak. Around 24% of London’s population ultimately perished, but the plague affected London’s...Read More
Great Plague of Vienna
The Great Plague of Vienna occurred in 1679 in Vienna, Austria, the imperial residence of the Austrian Habsburg rulers. From contemporary descriptions, the disease is believed to have been bubonic plague, which is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, carried by fleas associated with the black rat and other rodents. The city was crippled by the epidemic, which recurred fitfully into the early 1680s, claiming an estimated 76,000 residents.
Great Northern War plague outbreak
During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), many towns and areas around the Baltic Sea and East-Central Europe had a severe outbreak of the plague with a peak from 1708 to 1712. This epidemic was probably part of a pandemic affecting an area from Central Asia to the Mediterranean....Read More
Great Plague of Marseille
The Great Plague of Marseille was the last major outbreak of bubonic plague in western Europe. Arriving in Marseille, France in 1720, the disease killed a total of 100,000 people: 50,000 in the city during the next two years and another 50,000 to the north in surrounding provinces and towns.
Great Plague of 1738
The Great Plague of 1738 was an outbreak of the bubonic plague between 1738 and 1740 that affected areas of the Habsburg Empire, now in the modern nations of Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, and Austria. Although no exact figure is available, the epidemic likely killed over 50,000 people.
The Russian plague epidemic of 1770–1772, also known as the Plague of 1771, was the last massive outbreak of plague in central Russia, claiming between 52,000 and 100,000 lives in Moscow alone (1/6 to 1/3 of its population). The bubonic plague epidemic that originated in the Moldovan theatre of...Read More
The 1812–1819 Ottoman plague epidemic was one of the last major epidemics of plague in the Ottoman Empire. This particular epidemic would cost the lives of at least 300,000 individuals. Plague epidemics occurred frequently in the Ottoman Empire between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Caragea’s plague (Romanian: Ciuma lui Caragea) was a bubonic plague epidemic that occurred in Wallachia, mainly in Bucharest, in the years 1813 and 1814. It coincided with the rule of the Phanariote Prince John Caradja. As Caragea came to Bucharest in 1812 after being appointed prince, the plague...Read More
First to Fifth cholera pandemic
The first cholera pandemic (1817–1824), also known as the first Asiatic cholera pandemic or Asiatic cholera, began near the city of Calcutta and spread throughout South and Southeast Asia to the Middle East, eastern Africa, and the Mediterranean coast. While cholera had spread across India many...Read More