Recently, Dr Tedros from WHO declared the Coronavirus outbreak as a Pandemic. A pandemic is declared when a disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations. The virus has pushed China and Italy to massive lockdowns. As per reports 129,389 people have been tested positive and 4,749 have died.

There have been several such health emergencies in the past which gripped the world. Here are five pandemics that haunted us in the past.

List of Pandemics

  • 1350 – The black death. Bubonic plague swept one-thirds of the world’s population
  • 1665- The great plague of London. Twenty percent of London’s population died due to the plague
  • 1885- 3rd plague Pandemic. First time a plague spread across all the five continents
  • 1957- Asian Flu. It was the spread of a new influenza A (H2N2) virus.
  • 1981- HIV/AIDS. More than 33 million people around the world are still living with AIDS.

The Black Death of 1350

This second appearance of the Bubonic Plague had its origins in Asia and then moved towards the west with caravans. During 1347 AD, the people who were carrying the disease, entered Sicily through the port of Messina. The disease hence spread throughout Europe. It swept approximately one-third of the entire population of the world.

Further, this plague ended a war between France and England as they called a truce on the account of heavy casualties and a dreadful overall impact. There were massive changes in economical and demographical structures of European societies, the British feudal system collapsed and the Vikings lost their strengths up in the north.

The great plague of London of 1665

This plague wiped out a massive 20 per cent of London’s population. During those times, human deaths and graves increased insurmountably. People started slaughtering cats and dogs in huge numbers  believing them as the possible cause and the disease. The pandemic majorly spread through the ports of Thames. All trades with London and other towns were stopped. This meant that people lost their jobs in huge numbers. Also, those who could fled the city.

Third plague Pandemic of 1855

Post the Black Death, a new plague ravaged the world. Here, for the first time the Bubonic plague reached all five continents and affecting 12-15 million people. Major cities like Hong Kong, Bombay, Cape Town, Sydney and Los Angeles were struck by the pandemic. People took massive measures as they attempted to contain the plague. They enforced quarantine, evacuations and torched neighbourhoods. It was still active in the 1960s when cases dropped below 100.

Asian Flu of 1957

The Asian Flu has its origins in Hong Kong and spread throughout China. It was the spread of a new influenza A (H2N2) virus which originated post mutation in Wild bucks with a human strain that already existed. It further reached the United States and England, where nearly 14,000 people died. Thereafter a second wave of the flu in 1958, caused 1.1 million fatalities globally. The flu was later controlled as a vaccine was developed.

HIV/AIDS of 1981

AIDS was first identified in 1981. This disease was responsible for failing an individual’s immune system which later could be vulnerable to various diseases. Those infected by HIV suffer fevers, headaches and enlarged lymph nodes. The carriers of HIV/AIDS become highly infectious. This can further be transmitted through blood and genital fluids. Currently, more than 33 million people around the world are living with AIDS. It is believed that the HIV spread when Humans hunted a certain species of chimpanzees. The disease moved to Haiti in the 1960s, then to New York And San Francisco in 1970s. Treatments have developed to contain AIDS but professionals are still on a lookout for a cure.

Also read: World Health Organization declares coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic

Vipashyana Dubey is an intern with SheThePeople

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