​​​​​​​ Black Death to Corona…Epidemics that killed millions

 Coronavirus outbreak have caused panic all over the world, paralyzing life and turning famous cities into ghost cities, but this epidemic that originated from China is not the first of its kind that humanity faced. How has they been eliminated?

Humanity faced many epidemics that were not less threatening than coronavirus. Despite its seriousness and widespread, but it was overcome. Will corona get out of control or be like the epidemics that hit the world and killed millions of people before?

The Plague (Black Death) killed about 25 million people

 It struck the Roman Empire at the end of the Antonine dynasty 165 and 190 AD, and spread in Europe, Africa and Asia at various times. The disease was called the Plague or the Black Death, characterized by the high rate of deaths that may up to 50% of the infected.

Scientific history recorded a well-known spread of the plague known as the Justinian plague — in attribution to the Byzantine Emperor, Justine — in 451 AD. Intermittent epidemics continued for 200 years and killed some 25 million people and spread to most Mediterranean countries.

In 1334, the so-called" Black Death or Great Plague"  began to spread in China, and from there to Constantinople and the rest of Europe, killing about 60% of Europe's total population.

In modern times, the starting point was China in the 1960s, to Hong Kong in the late 20th century, until the early 20th century. It spread through rats in steamships,  killing about 10 million people.

The cause of the epidemic was the bacteria that was transmitted through rat fleas; the plague was prevented by fighting fleas and rats, especially in cities.


 A viral disease caused by Variola virus, gives rise to spots that turn into blisters and later deep scars. The disease killed about 30% of the infected throughout history, but the survivors had got blinded, very deep scars and marks on the skin, as well as other deformities such as loss of lips, nose and ear tissue.

One of the most important reasons that made smallpox dangerous that it is an airborne disease; coughing, sneezing and direct contact with any bodily fluids could spread smallpox virus, in addition to sharing contaminated clothing or bedding.

 It is believed that the Smallpox originated in India or Egypt at least 3,000 years ago. It spread along trade routes in Asia, Africa and Europe later. There were unmistakable descriptions of the disease in China during the 4th century and India and the Mediterranean during the 7th century AD, as well as South-West Asia during the 10th century.

Assessments indicate that smallpox entered Europe between the 5th and 7th centuries with the spread of epidemics during the Middle Ages. European colonists introduced smallpox into the Americas as well as Africa and Australia between the 15th and 18th centuries with infection rates of 90%. Smallpox is generally believed to have caused the fall of the Aztec and Inca empires.

It is estimated that there were 300-500 million smallpox fatalities worldwide.

Smallpox eradication was announced in 1980 thanks to the WHO smallpox eradication programme, it was one of the leading successes in medical science.


 Cholera spread during the 19th century (1816) all over the world from the Ganges river Delta in India, afterward, six outbreaks of the pandemic claimed tens of millions lives across all continents.

The number of deaths in India between 1817 and 1860 was estimated more than 15 million. Between 1865 and 1917, 23 million people died. Russian deaths over a similar period of time exceeded 2 million.

 The current (the seventh) pandemic broke out in South Asia in 1961 and reached Africa in 1971 and then to the Americas in 1991. Cholera is widespread in many countries. According to the World Health Organization. 

Researchers estimate that there are approximately 1.3-4 million cholera cases per year. The fatality rate is estimated at 5% of all cases in Africa, and less than 1% elsewhere.


 One of these epidemics, is a powerful virus that has made the world's population suffer a lot and has spread around the world in an annual outbreak, id the influenza.

Russia's influenza is the oldest ever recorded influenza epidemic between 1889 and 1890, caused by the spread of the H2N2 virus. Influenza emerged from Russia and soon spread to Europe, arriving in North America in December 1889. From there, it spread to Latin America and Asia in February 1890. About 1 million people died of the infection.

Spanish influenza is considered the most harmful to humanity. Historians say the virus first spread in 1918 in the final months of World War I.

They add that soldiers on the western front of the war were living in narrow, dirty and wet trenches, injuring a number of them.

Because of malnutrition, their immune system had weakened, getting vulnerable to the Spanish influenza virus, according to the science website Life Sciences.

 From one trench to another, the influenza spread, until it emerged from the military sphere to infect civilians when soldiers began to return to their homes as fighting ceased, spreading the virus in their villages and towns, killing between 40 and 50 million people.

 The Center for the Disease Control, "CDC " says about 500 million people were infected with "Spanish influenza," that is one-third of the world's population at the time.

According to the Historical Affairs Website, the Spanish influenza ended in the summer of 1919, after its infected or  developed their immune system died.

There is also the Asian influenza that appeared in 1957 and caused 2 million deaths, as well as the Hong Kong influenza that appeared in 1968 and caused 1 million deaths.

  In the spring of 2009, scientists identified a particular strain of swine flu known as H1N1. In fact, the virus is from pigs, birds and humans. During 2009-2010 influenza season, the H1N1 virus infected the human respiratory system with an infection commonly referred to as swine flu because large numbers of people were infected that year, H1N1 influenza became a global epidemic. In August 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the end of the global epidemic.

 Known as severe acute in the respiratory syndrome , a viral respiratory disease of animal origin that appeared in China and spread around the world, particularly in South-East Asian countries, leading to respiratory difficulties and mysterious pneumonia.

 It emerged as a global threat in March 2003, and the first infection was recorded in northern China in December 2002. The Italian doctor, Carlo Orbani was the first to discover and die of the virus.

More than 3,000 people were infected and 861 died worldwide since it first appeared in China's Guangdong Province. No vaccine or preventive treatment had been detected that has proven to be both safe and effective in humans.


 It appeared in 1976 in Congo and spread around the world, claiming 35 million deaths since its inception. In 2014, scientists concluded that the origin of the AIDS epidemic dates back to the 1920s in the city of Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo currently.


It appeared in Guinea and spread to the neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone, later known as the "Ebola virus in West Africa". During that year, about 6,000 people died. In 2018, Ebola  hit again the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where more than 2,200 people lost their lives.

Corona came to complete the series of epidemics that killed millions around the world.



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