Epidemics are nothing new. Traces of the devastation they left behind can be traced throughout history, and at a time when the world is facing a pandemic of a new virus - the corona, let us recall those who took the most human lives in past centuries. To begin with, let’s say something about the etymology of terms. An epidemic signifies the unusually frequent occurrence of a single disease in a single population. The word is derived from the Greek words "epi" ("over") and "demos" ("people").
Epidemics that cross state or even continental borders are called pandemics. This word comes from the Greek words “pan” (“all”) and “demos” (“people”). The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global pandemic due to the coronavirus.
The epilogue of humanity's struggle with the new virus is yet to be seen, and these are the ten deadliest epidemics in history:
Athenian plague, 430 BC e. - from 75 to 100 thousand deaths!
The Greek historian Thucydides was the first to write about epidemics. He was one of the sick but surviving Athenians. The Athenian plague adopted the name for an epidemic of an infectious disease that broke out in 430 BC. e., during the second year of the Peloponnesian War, in Athens in ancient Greece, while the city was under siege by the Spartans. It is a still unidentified disease (although it is most often said to be typhoid fever) that killed about a quarter of the soldiers and citizens of Athens, including the famous Pericles. Some historians believe that the virus was responsible for the end of the Golden Age of Athens, ie the defeat of that city in the Peloponnesian War.
Antonini's Plague, 165–180. not. - about 5 million dead!
The Antonini plague was an epidemic of a contagious disease that struck the Roman Empire in the period from 165 to 180. Medical historians believe that the epidemic was caused by small or smallpox. The disease was transmitted to the Roman Empire by soldiers who fought in the war against the Party Empire in the Middle East. Two emperors - Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius, from the Antonine dynasty, after whom this epidemic was named, died from this disease. The total death toll is estimated at a quarter of those infected throughout the Roman Empire, or about 5,000,000 people. The epidemic broke out again after nine years, and then, the Roman consul and historian Cassius Dion Coceian stated in his work "Roman History" that up to 2,000 patients died daily in Rome alone. Ancient sources also mention the later Cyprian plague (251–266), probably the same disease that killed 5,000 people a day in Rome.
Justinian's plague - 541-750. years - between 30 and 50 million deaths!
Justinian's plague, represents the first confirmed bubonic plague epidemic in history. It started in Egypt and then spread to Constantinople where, according to the Byzantine chronicler Procopius, at its peak it killed 10,000 people a day. The bodies had to be burned because people were dying too fast to be buried. The plague then killed between a quarter and a half of the human population. It is estimated to have killed between 30 and 50 million people.
Black Death - 1346–1350. years - about 50 million dead!
The "Black Death" or other great plague pandemic occurred some 800 years after Justinian, killing about 50 million Europeans between 1347 and 1351 alone, or a third of the total population in the worst-hit areas. It was the first in a cycle of European plague epidemics that continued until the 19th century. Over 100 plague epidemics were recorded in Europe during the period, a disease that killed 200 million people during that time.
Mouse fever - 1545-1548 and 1576 - 5-15 million deaths!
Mouse fever or hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome is an infectious disease caused by a junta virus infection. The largest epidemic of this disease broke out in Mexico in the period 1545 and 1548, and once again in 1576, killing 5 to 15 million people, which at that time was about 80% of the population of this country.
Smallpox - 1492-1974. years!
Smallpox is a highly contagious human disease caused by two types of smallpox virus - Variola vera major and Variola vera minor. This disease killed more than 400,000 Europeans every year until the 18th century. It killed between 300 and 500,000 people in the 20th century. The most important role was played by the goddesses after the discovery of America, when the natives of North and South America came in contact with Europeans who were infected with the smallpox virus. Unlike the colonizers, the natives did not have developed immunity, which led to a sudden spread of the disease and a dramatic decline in the native population. An epidemic also broke out in Yugoslavia in 1972, and the last cases were recorded in India in 1974. After vaccination, the virus was eradicated and today it is only found in laboratories.
Cholera - the first pandemic 1817-1823. years - so far more than 4 million deaths!
Infected rice is believed to have triggered the first cholera pandemic in India. Cholera has long plagued the inhabitants of the banks of the Ganges. However, in 1817, British troops spread the disease throughout India. The disease spread from these areas by trade routes to Russia and Western Europe and further to North America. Cholera is characterized by the fact that it causes tremors that last for several days, vomiting, muscle cramps and dehydration. Diarrhea can be so severe that it can lead to severe dehydration within a few hours. So far, seven pandemics and several outbreaks have been recorded - 1816-1826, 1829-1851, 1852-1860, 1863-1875, 1881-1896, 1899-1923. and 1961-1970 during all that time killing more than 4 million people worldwide. The disease is still active, especially in Asia.
Spanish fever - 1918-1920 - about 75 million deaths!
The Spanish flu was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. It appeared at the end of the First World War and spread across the planet in three waves. The pandemic began in China and Japan and spread all the way to Russia, Europe, and North America. In six months it reached all continents except Antarctica. According to recent estimates, a third of the world's population has been infected, which is about 500 million people. About 75 million people died (although some historians also mention the number of 100 million dead) which means that the Spanish fever took more lives than the First World War.
Tuberculosis - prehistory-today!
Tuberculosis has been present since ancient times. The earliest proven discovery of "Mycobacterium tuberculosis" refers to the remains of bison that are more than 17,000 years old. Skeletal remains indicate that prehistoric man had tuberculosis. The pulmonary form of tuberculosis-related disease was established by Richard Morton in 1689. It was not identified as a special disease until the ‘20s of the 19th century. The impetus for the research was the industrial revolution and the sudden influx of population into cities where the disease began to spread rapidly among poor workers. Only the discovery of antibiotics in 1946 enabled adequate treatment. It has long been thought that tuberculosis will be eradicated over time, but this view has changed drastically recently. Every year, two million people die from tuberculosis, which makes tuberculosis the most deadly contagious disease today after AIDS.
AIDS - 1981-present - about 25 million deaths!
AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease that represents the last stage of infection of the body with the HIV virus. It is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is why the body is not able to defend itself against even the smallest infections. According to the data of the United Nations and the World Health Organization program on HIV and AIDS, since the appearance of this disease, in the early 60's, and until the end of 2008, a total of about 60 million people have been infected in the world. about 25 million people died at that time. About 770,000 people in the world died last year from AIDS-related diseases, and it is estimated that in 2019, there were about 38 million people infected with the HIV virus in the world.
However, I can't wait for this to come to an end. Certainly there are diseases and we can't change that. Although smallpox appears, so it's not very eradicated, they certainly have to be crossed.