A pandemic refers to a disease prevalent over the whole country or the world. Humanity has been suffering such pandemics from 165 AD with the Antonine Plague which took 5 Million lives, to the current pandemic – Covid-19 which has already crossed 40 thousand fatalities. The biggest pandemics in history have been in Europe which can be related to poor hygiene and sanitation.
Here, we will talk about the 5 biggest pandemics in the history of the world.
1. Black Death / Bubonic Plague [1347-1351 – 200 Million]
This was the most devastating pandemic recorded in human history. It struck Europe and Asia in the mid 1300s. This outbreak wiped out 30-50% of Europe’s population which took more than 200 years to recover. It originated in rats and spread to humans via infected fleas.
2. Smallpox [1520 – 56 Million]
Smallpox was brought by European invaders to the Americas. An estimated 90% of Native Americans were killed in this pandemic. In the 1800, around 400 million people were being killed annually. The first ever vaccine was created for Smallpox. It is said to have been eradicated now after successful vaccination campaigns in the 19th and 20th century.
3. Spanish Flu [1918 – 40-50 Million]
It was a deadly influenza pandemic which occurred in 1918 affecting 500 million people, about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. It affected young adults disproportionately. It was caused by H1N1 influenza virus. Main countries affected were Germany, UK, France and the United States.
4. Plague of Justinian [541-542 AD – 30-50 Million]
This plague affected eastern roman empire as well as the Sassanian empire and port cities around the entire Mediterranean sea. It spread from the merchant ships harbouring rats carrying infected fleas. Many believe it may have helped hasten the fall of the Roman Empire. The death toll is still under debate.
5. HIV AIDS [1981-present – 25-35 Million]
HIV originated in west-central Africa during the late 19th or early 20th century. Till date there is no cure or vaccination developed for HIV and the death toll continues to increase world wide. AIDS interferes with the immune system of a person increasing the risk of developing common infections like TB and tumours also accompanied by unintended weight loss.
Read more about the History of Pandemics.
Over 90% Pandemic Viruses in the last 100 years originated from Africa or China but none from India. Also read what astrologers say about when the Coronavirus pandemic will end. Here are some Hindu practices which can help in preventing the spread of infections.