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10 epidemics that changed the course of human history

10 epidemics that changed the course of human history
10 epidemics that changed the course of human history

10 epidemics that changed the course of human history

 Ten epidemics that changed the course of human history. From the Black Death to the Coronavirus, ten epidemics altered the course of human history. The outbreak of the new Coronavirus revealed weaknesses in the global response to the attack of viruses, in light of the increasing number of confirmed cases of the virus, in addition to deaths. Throughout human history, epidemics have affected civilizations since the first spread in 430 BC during the Peloponnesian War (between Athens and the allies of Sparta). Many of these epidemics had significant repercussions on human existence, killing large numbers of the world’s population at that time, which made them live in terror and wonder about their future existence in this life.

Plague of Justinian (541-750 AD):

10 epidemics that changed the course of human history

In his report, which was published by the American “Business Insider” website, the writer Rider Kimball said that the outbreak of the bubonic plague put an end to the reign of the emperor of Byzantium in the sixth century Justinian I.

This epidemic is known at present as the “Plague of Justinian,” which killed between 30 and 50 million people, which was equivalent to half of the world’s population at that time.

According to ancient sources, the outbreak and the widespread of this epidemic contributed to the cessation of commercial activities, also the weakening and exhaustion of the empire, which allowed other kingdoms to reclaim Byzantine lands in the Middle East, North Africa, and large parts of Asia.

The first epidemic recorded was in Greece in 430 BC, and perhaps ancient Egypt also knew old outbreaks.

The Black Death (1347-1351 A.D.)

Ten epidemics that changed human history, the writer mentioned that between 1347 and 1351, bubonic plague spread across Europe, killing about 25 million people. It took the statistics of population levels in Europe more than 200 years to return to their status before the year 1347. It is possible that this epidemic took more lives in Asia, especially China, where it is believed to be the home of the epidemic.

Among the other repercussions of this epidemic, later known as the “Black Death,” was the beginning of the decline of serfdom (peasants in the fiefs). As so many people died that the survivors’ standard of living rose. 

This contributed to creating more job opportunities, growing social mobility, and stopping wars for a short period.

Smallpox (15th and 17th centuries)

The writer pointed out that the Europeans brought several new diseases when they first arrived on the two American continents in 1492. One of these diseases was smallpox, which killed about 30% of the infected.

During this period, smallpox killed nearly 20 million people or about 90% of the population in the Americas. The epidemic contributed to the Europeans colonizing, developing, and subjugate evacuated areas. And to change the history of the two continents. The smallpox epidemic wiped out millions of indigenous people in Latin America.

Cholera (1817-1823)

The writer pointed out that the cholera epidemic in “Jessore,” India, spread in most parts of the country and then to the neighboring regions. It claimed the lives of millions before a British doctor named “John Snow” learned some information about ways to limit its spread.

The World Health Organization described cholera –which affects between 1.3 and 4 million people annually– as a “forgotten epidemic.” The organization said that the seventh epidemic outbreak, which began in 1961, continues today. And because cholera infection is caused by eating food or water contaminated with certain germs, the disease has managed to infect an overwhelming majority in countries that suffer from an inequitable distribution of wealth and lack of social development. Cholera changes the world by affecting poor regions, while it does not significantly affect rich countries.

Spanish flu (1918-1919)

The Spanish flu, also known as the “influenza pandemic,” broke out in 1918, affecting about 500 million people and killing more than 50 million worldwide.

During the disease outbreak, the First World War was nearing its end. The public health authorities did not have sufficient means to deal with viral epidemics, which contributed to their significant impact on societies. In the following years, research contributed to understanding how the epidemic spread and ways to prevent it, which helped reduce the subsequent outbreak of influenza-like viruses.

Hong Kong flu (1968-1970)

10 epidemics that changed the course of human history

Ten epidemics changed the course of human history; the writer reported that 50 years after the outbreak of the Spanish flu, another influenza virus has spread throughout the world. It is estimated that the global death toll from this virus has reached about one million people, one-tenth of them in the United States. In 1968, this epidemic was the third influenza epidemic in the 20th century, after the Spanish flu (1918) and the Asian flu that spread in 1957. It is believed that the virus responsible for Asian flu developed and reappeared ten years later.

Although the Hong Kong flu virus was not as fatal as the Spanish flu of 1918, it was exceptionally contagious, with 500,000 people infected within two weeks of the first case reported in Hong Kong. Overall, the epidemic has helped the global health community understand the vital role of vaccinations in preventing future outbreaks.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (2002-2003)

The author explained that severe acute respiratory syndrome is caused by one of the seven coronaviruses infecting humans. Its genotype is almost 90% similar to that of the new coronavirus.

In 2003, the disease outbreak that originated in the Chinese province of Guangdong became a global epidemic that quickly spread to 26 countries, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing 774 of them.

However, the results of the 2003 SARS outbreak were limited mainly due to the intense public health response by global authorities, including isolation of affected areas and infected individuals.

Swine flu (2009-2010)

The author reported that a new type of influenza virus appeared in 2009, affecting more than 60 million people in the United States, and the global death toll ranged between 151 and 575,000. This virus is called “swine flu” because it appears to have passed from pigs to humans and differs from regular influenza in that 80% of virus-related deaths included people under the age of 65, unlike chronic influenza deaths.

Ebola (2014-2016)

Ten epidemics that changed the course of human history, One of the Epidemics that changed the course of human history was the Ebola virus –named after a river close to the area where the disease spread– which is limited in scope compared to most recent epidemics, but it was incredibly deadly. The virus first appeared in Guinea in 2014 and then spread to several neighboring countries in West Africa. The virus has killed more than 11,000 people out of 296,000 infected in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. It is estimated that the Ebola virus cost 4.3 billion dollars and caused a significant decrease in the investment received in the three countries.

 It is estimated that the Coronavirus will spread to a large extent worldwide and could eventually infect between 40 and 70% of its population. A study by the Australian National University also indicates that the new Coronavirus will kill millions of people and cost global GDP $ 2.4 trillion.

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Written by toulziz

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