These days, one thing that is lurking around the minds of each one of us is the worldwide pandemic that has created a sense of panic among the population. However, this is not the first that the world is gripped in such a panicking situation. Such pandemics have taken the lives of thousands of individuals through human history. Let us have a look at some of the intense outbreaks around the globe. There are evidence of numerous plague outbreaks during pre-historic times, some of which include
During those ancient times, the exact cause or nature of the epidemic was not identified so the outbreak was generally termed as plague, attacking healthy and normal people and then deteriorating their health conditions eventually leading to the painful death of countless inhabitants. Since the disease cure or treatment was not advanced during those times, we can believe that the death rate used to be much higher wiping out whole communities without sparing anyone.
The exact literary account of an epidemic is that of the Black Death occurring between 1346-1353 which became the cause of huge of sufferings for Europe and Asia. Black Death was a bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis which used to spread from fleas on infected rodents. It was undoubtedly the dark period in European history as 50% of the continent’s population is believed to wipe out as a consequence of this disease. Another outbreak of Black Death again caused a massive havoc in Europe particularly in Great Britain. Termed as ‘Great Plague of London’, this one year outbreak started in 1665 and took lives of almost 15% of Londoners.
Another record of historic plague is the great plague of Marsielle between the period of 1720-1723 which originated as cargo ship ‘Grand Saint Antoine’ was docked in Marseille after its journey from eastern Mediterranean. The plague was so disastrous that it spread even when the ship was quarantined and became the cause of death of about 30% residents of Marseille.
In mid-eighties, cholera pandemic starting from India spread like fire through whole Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. More than one million people died as a result of this fatal disease. It was also during this pandemic that John Snow, a British physician identified unclean water as a source of cholera transmission.
In the last decade of 19th century (1889-1890), a novel viral strain namely Influenza-A virus subtype H3N8 resulted in flu pandemic which was named as Asiatic or Russian Flu. The spread was first identified in Central Asia, northwest Canada and Greenland however; before long, it spread across the entire globe. Again, this fierce attack of nature took more than a million lives in just one year.
After almost half-century, influenza-A viral strain H3N8 was initially reported in Hong Kong and then quickly spread across Singapore, Vietnam, India, Philippines, Australia, Europe, and America. Even with a mortality rate of just 0.5%, this flu pandemic also killed more than a million people with the majority of the casualties in the Hong Kong region.
Most recently, a deadly viral disease was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). The death toll resulting from this incurable pandemic has reached around 36 million since 1981. Though there is still no exact treatment identified for this extremely fatal disease, awareness has grown regarding its causes of spread which has made the disease quite manageable.
Besides some of the notable epidemics mentioned above, humankind is constantly experiencing such disastrous situations for a long time. The most recent COVID-19 is also a part of this ongoing series of pandemics. However; with the rapid advancement in science and technology, we can be optimistic that a cure will soon be available since we are living in the times of rapid development unlike the days gone by.
by: Noor Ul Ain