Although scientists and medical experts have disagreed over the precise definition of a pandemic for years, everyone accepts that the term refers to the widespread incidence of disease beyond what could typically be anticipated in a particular geographic area.
Some of the most heinous murderers in recorded human history include cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox, and influenza. And the spread of these illnesses over international borders is correctly referred to as a pandemic, particularly in the case of smallpox, which has killed between 300 million and 500 million people throughout history throughout its 12,000-year lifespan.
These are the top 7 pandemics in recorded history.
AIDS/HIV PANDEMIC (AT ITS PEAK, 2005-2012)
Since its discovery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has effectively established itself as a worldwide epidemic, killing more than 36 million people. Between 31 and 35 million individuals are now living with HIV, the majority of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the infection affects 5% of the population or around 21 million people. As public knowledge has increased, new medications have been created that make HIV much easier to control, and many people who are infected go on to enjoy fulfilling lives. The number of people worldwide who died from HIV/AIDS decreased from 2.2 million in 2005 to 1.6 million in 2012.
FLU PANDEMIC (1968)
The 1968 flu pandemic, a category 2 flu pandemic often known as “the Hong Kong Flu,” was brought on by the H3N2 strain of the Influenza A virus, a genetic offshoot of the H2N2 subtype. Only 17 days had passed since the first incidence of the virus was recorded in Hong Kong on July 13, 1968, and within three months, it had spread to various countries. Despite having a relatively low mortality rate (.5%), the 1968 pandemic nonetheless claimed the lives of over a million individuals, including 500,000 Hong Kong residents, or around 15% of the city’s population at the time.
ASIAN FLU (1956-1958)
An influenza A pandemic epidemic of the H2N2 subtype known as the “Asian Flu” started in China in 1956 and continued until 1958. The Asian Flu spread over two years from the Chinese province of Guizhou to Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US. The total death toll from the Asian Flu has been estimated to be over 2 million, with 69,800 of those deaths occurring in the US alone, according to the World Health Organization.
FLU PANDEMIC (1918)
An unsettlingly lethal influenza pandemic that ravaged the world between 1918 and 1920 killed 20–50 million people and infected almost a third of the world’s population. The mortality rate of the 500 million persons who contracted the 1918 pandemic was estimated to be 10% to 20%, with up to 25 million deaths occurring in the first 25 weeks alone. The victims of the 1918 flu pandemic were what set it apart from previous influenza outbreaks; in the past, influenza had only ever killed children, the elderly, and patients who were already sick, but this time it started attacking strong, healthy young adults, leaving children and people with weakened immune systems alive.
SIXTH CHOLERA PANDEMIC (1910-1911)
The Sixth Cholera Pandemic, like its five predecessors, began in India, where it claimed over 800,000 lives before moving to the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Russia. The latest cholera epidemic in the United States originated from the sixth pandemic (1910–1911). Only 11 deaths happened in the U.S. as a result of swift efforts by American health officials to isolate the afflicted after learning from the past. Cholera occurrences had drastically decreased by 1923, yet they were still a regular occurrence in India.
FLU PANDEMIC (1889-1890)
It was formerly believed that the “Asiatic Flu” or “Russian Flu,” as it was often known, was an epidemic of the influenza A virus subtype H2N2, but more recent research has revealed that this was not the case. The first occurrences were noted in May 1889 in three distinct and remote locations: Greenland, Athabasca, and Bukhara in Central Asia (Turkestan). The flu spread quickly throughout the 19th century due to the rapid urban population development, which only served to accelerate the pandemic’s global spread. Although much was learned from it, it was the first actual pandemic in the period of bacteriology. In the end, nearly a million people died as a result of the 1889–1890 flu pandemic.
THE BLACK DEATH (1346-1353)
Between 1346 and 1353, Europe, Africa, and Asia were devastated by a plague pandemic that killed between 75 and 200 million people. The Plague, which is believed to have begun in Asia, most likely spread throughout continents thanks to the fleas that lived on the rats that were so common in trade ships. Ports were important metropolitan hubs at the time, making them ideal places for rats and fleas to proliferate. As a result, the sneaky bacteria spread, wreaking havoc on three continents.