1.7 Infectious Diseases in Human History

Human history is marked by the spread of infectious diseases from time to time. We have records of plagues that swept whole civilizations, even in ancient times, from the face of the Earth.

Leprosy impacted Europe through the 11th century, causing thousands of deaths, and was followed by the Black Death in the 14th century. The Black Death alone wiped out 30 to 50% of the entire European population.

The 1800s were marked with multiple cholera pandemics along with another wave of the bubonic plague, claiming the lives of more than 15 million people. In 1875, one-third of Fijis population was wiped out by the Fiji measles pandemic.

Between 1889 and 1890, the Russian flu caused 360,000 deaths, and the 20th century was marked by various influenza pandemics. In 1918, the Spanish flu swept 17 to 50 million people off the planet alone. It was followed by the Asian Flu and the AIDS pandemic, which is still continuing to claim lives.

In 2003, the SARS pandemic broke out and was followed by the current COVID-19 pandemic sixteen years later. The SARS outbreak was relatively controlled, but COVID-19 became a global pandemic that has already claimed over 6 million lives.

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