* disease pandemics


Figure 1.--Here Canadian children wear face masks during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19. Wjile this pamfr,oc prohinated in Europe (although not Spain), presimably as a resilt of World War I, most pandemics seem to have originated in Asia, especially China. The Wehan (Covid 19) Virus is only one in a lomg series of pandemiocs priginating in China. One of the unanswered questions is the long-term impact of contractung flu. There is some evidence that there were long-term, adverse health issues for the survivors. The same may well be the case for those who contract the Wehan virus.

There have been quite a number of of hugely deadly pandemics, meaning a disease outbreak over a whole country or the world. There were probably more, but reporting in pre-history or even anchient times is limited. Only with the Greeks and Romans toward the end of the ancient era do we get more detailed reportingm. Their lack of understading of the science involved clouds the reporting. Some of these pandemics hace signifuicantly baffected huistorym weakening or bringing down the Roman Emoire, weakening European Fedualism which ushered in the modern era, and helping to destroy the great Amerindian empires. Countless tomes have been written about wars and the hoirific death tolls. Actually no wars have approached the death tolls of the great pandemicsm, even World War I and II. Given the outbreak of the Wuhan (Covid 19) virus unleased by China on the world, we thought it might be a good idea to list the major pandemics over time and consiuder their histoirical and economic impact. Much of the historical reporting on plagues concerns primarily Europe. It ois unclear about the situation in Asian countries, especially China and India. We are not sure why is becuse China in particular has a substantial and lengthy written record. What is notable about these pandemics is the number and virulence of thpse originating in China.

Ancient World

Civilization began in the Fertile Cressant of Mesopotamia with the invention of agricilture about 10,000 years ago (about 8,000 BC). And we have archeological evidence as man's progress over the ensuing millenia. The other great river valley civilizations followed: Egypt, Indus Valley, and China. Writing wasen invented independently in the Near East, China and Mesoamerica. The cuneiform script, created in Mesopotamia, was the first form of writing (about 3200 BC). Writing of course provides more derailed information to historians. We do not have any reports of plagues throughout the several millenia of civilized life until the last millenia with the clasical civilizations of Greece and Rome (500 BC-500 AD). It seems very unlikely that during the preceeding 7 millenia that there were no plagues of any kind. What Greece and Rome had and no earlier civilaztions had was historians. Most of the early writing was either clerical/acconting texts (cuneiform tablets) or monumental archeatecture. Ewiting except for accounting purposes was reserved by authority figures, kings and priests. None of them reported plagues. The leaders of the day wanted to report and glorify their achievements, mostly victories in war, not accurately record history--especially not great tragedies like plagues and famines. Only with the clasical world do we get reports of plaguess. Not only is it virtually impossible that plagues began with classical civilzation, we know for a fact that plagues existed in ancient times. We know this because God through Moses and Aaron theatened Pharaoh with plagues. [Exodus] This was obviiusly not a new concept created by God, but an experience within the understanding of the Egyptians. Exodus has been dated [15th-13th century BC] Thus it is clear that plagues existed, only we have no ancient reports on them until the classical era. Especially interesting is China. The Chinese have a long written history, yet we know of no Chinese reports of any actual plague from ancient times. And we know now that many plague organisms came from China. And we know that the ancient Chinese acquired a basic understanding of indecttous fisease, much more advanced than in the West. [Liang, et. al..] The Chinese developed capabilities in both the prevention and cure of infectious diseases. And this is known early as the Warring States period (475–221 BC), probably earlier. . China began to develop theories on epidemic diseases. Desoite all this knowledge which mut have been based on expeiences with plagues, there is no report of a plague in China until (224 BC). The Qin Dynasty first created a unified Chibese state (221 to 206 BC). And tge Qin develooed an integrated response system, including prevention, diagnosis, and isolation. Subsequently during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) attebtiin began as to the control of infection sources. Vaccination methods were created in the Song Dynasty (960–1279). This practiced was widesoread during the filloing Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Plague of Athens (429-426 BC)

The Plague of Athens is the first historical plague reported in detail. There is a reason for this and it is obviously nit because it was the first pandemic. It is because it was the Greeks who invented history. Heridotus may have been the first historian, but only by a few years, closely followed by Thucydides. And Thucyduded describe the disease whivh hit Athens in great detail. The death toll was about 75,000-100,000 oeople. The disease involved and origin is still not fully understood. Some sources thamks to Thucydides' detailed discriptiins identify the disease as a strain of typhus. Hecsescribes ge synotims in all the lurid derails--lesions, red skin, and then bloody throats and tounges. It seems certain that the disease did not originate in Athens. There were reports in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Libya, but the actual origin is unknown. The duseaase reached Athens through Piraeus, the city's port (430 BC). Athens had a trading and seafaring ecomomy. Thus it was thus especially vulnerable to disease. Notice how many plagues were spread by commerce and the movement of people. It erupted across the city (429 BC). One famed historian writes, "It is said to have broken out previously in many other places, in the region of Lemnos and elsewhere, but there was no previous record of so great a pestilence and destruction of human life. The doctors were unable to cope, since they were treating the disease for the first time and in ignorance; indeed, the more they came into contact with sufferers, the more liable they were to lose their own lives." [Thucydides III.81.] Athens at the time was involved in the Second Peloponnesian War with Sparta (431-404 BC). Pericles had just ordered a retreat behind Athens’ great defensive walls. This included people from outlying villages. This meant Athenians were living in The close quarters of a substantially expanded population, perfect conditions for the soread of disease. Population density is a mahor factor in oandemics. And once the disase entered the city, there was no place for quarantining the sick. The disease thus spread quickly. The symptoms reported inckuded a fever, sneezing, sore throat, terribke bad breath, violent coughing, chest pains, insomnia, and convulsions. Many healthy people after being struck with the disease, died within 10 days after reporting the first symptoms. This associated fever was so intense that people threw off their clothing and were so dehydrated that they constantly craved water, but could not hold it down. Those who arrempted to help the sick, mostly family menbers, also quickly perushed themseelves. People began abandoning the sick. There was reportedly a breakdown of law and turning away from religious practices. [Thucydides III.83] Athenians who survived the disease found that they had become immune. They vegan to help others who were still suffering. Many of the City's most prominent citizens perished, inclisung Pericles himself. The Plague wiould have a najor=e imoact oin the outcome of the War, leading to Soparta's ultimate victory. There were outbreak affecting s much of the eastern Mediterranean worldn. [Kercheval]

Antonine Plague (165-80)

The Antonine Plague is also called the Plague of Galen--the esteemed medical authority of the time. This was not the bunonic pleague and historians dusagree as to the diseaase inbolved. The most likely suspect was measles or smallpox. It aflicted the Roman Empire at its peak of power and appears to have been a factor in the subsequent decline of the Empire. Roman at the time was the unquyestioned power throughout the Mediterranean world (165). This was during the period historians have come to call the Five Good Emperors. Specifically the reign of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (161-180). This is why the Plague is mamed the Antonine Plague. Historians speculate that this Plague probably emerged from China some time before 166 and spread west along the Silk Road aswell as by trading ships through India and the Middle East. The Roman military came into contact with the disease during the siege of Seleucia (an important city on the Tigris River). Troops returning home from the Middle East spread the disease to Rome and them northward to Gaul and and the Roman forts along rhe Rhine River. The first and most virulent phase lasted until 180. Some 2,000 people were dying dailky in Rome. It eventually affected all of the Empire because it was so interconnected by Meditrrranean shipping and roads. A second smaller outbreak occurred (251-66). These outbreaks, especially the second, weakened the Empire and were among the many factors in its decline. The death toll may have been 5 million--a huge figure given the smalle populations at the time. The Legions were affected, weakeninhg the ability of the Empire to defend its borders. The Emperor wrote, "With their rnks thinned by the epedenuc, Roman armies were noiw unable to oush the tribes back." [Antonius]

Plague of Justian/Bubonic Plague (First Wave: 541-42)

The Justinian Plague was another gret plague from Asia. It is one of deadlist plagues of history. istorians describe three great waves of bubonic plague. The Justinian Plague was the first definative wave of the bubonic plague which aflicted Europe. ThEye witness reports describes the disaster in Cionstantinople with 10,000 peopole dieing daily. Emperor Justinian only added to the disaster. "When pestilence swept over the whole known world and notably the Roman Empire , wioing out most of the farming community and of necesity leaving a trail of devestration in its wake, Justiniam showed mno mercy toweard the ruined freeholders. Even then he dud not refrain friom demanding the annual tax, not only the amount at which he assessed every binduvidual, but also the ammount for which his deceased neighniors were liable." [Procopius] It ultimately killed some 25 million people. That death toll does not do it justice because the Europoean popoulation at the trime was a small fraction of the modern population. The Justinian Plague ultimately may have killed about half of the European population. It apprently did not originate in Byzantium. It seems to have originated in the East and moved to Egypt before reaching Byzantium. [Procopius] Of course anicent sources have to be treated with a degree of caution. It spread on fron Byzantium (Constantinople) to all Mediterranean port cities anf then on into continental Europe. It proivides what is believed to be the first written record of the bubonic (exhibiting buboes) plague. It was of immense historical signnificance. It ended the Emperor Justinian's efforts to reestablish the Roman Empire by conquering the West. Justinian's armies had almost completed the conquest of Italy and much of the Western Mediterraean. Some historians believe it fueled the rapid coinversion of the Mediterraneab world to Christianity. It also, however, weakened the Byzantune Empire, ending the last chance of the continuation of classical society leading to the descent of Europe into the Dark Ages and the collapse of civilization. [Mango] The Empire was also rendered ill-prepared to confront the Arab warriors who inflamed with the teachings of Mohammed burst out of the isolated and largely unaffected vastness if the Arabian Peninsula (7th century).

Black Death/Bubonic Plague (Second Wave: 1347-51/53)

The medieval Black Death s thought to have killed some 75-200 million people. This was the second great wave of bubonic plague. We in the West think of it primarily in medieval Europran terms, but it may have killed over half to the world population. The wide range of the estimates reflects the difficulty of assessing mortalities before the advent of modern records. It may not have been the most deadly disease in terms of body count, but given the much smaller world populations at the time, can be considered the single most deadly pandemic of all time. t is nelieved to have wiped out about a third of the European population. The Black Death was a outbreak of the bubonic (exhibiuting buboes) plague in Western Europe. The culprit was a bacterium (Yersinia pestis carried by blood sucking fleas. It appears to have begun in China (1331). This and the cibilwar raging in China is believed to have killed half the population of Chiina. It reached Wesrern Europe when 12 ships from Black Sea ports (Ukraine/Crimea) docked at Messina, the Siclina port across from Italion mainland (1347). One or more of the boats carried rats infested with fleas that had been infected woth the plague virus. The plague was transmitted thriough flea bites, contact with infected tissue, or inhalation of respiratior=ry droplets. The plague quickly spread throughout Western Europe, killing perhaps a third of the population. Peoole died horribkly. The Black Death was deadly, but of relatively short duration. This was perhaps because it was so deadly. In killing off human hosts, it impaired its ability to spread. Some Europeans were genitically more resistant to the plague. As thise genetucally vilnerable died, again the chances of infection and soread declined and the Black Death began to disappear as rapidly as it arrived. No one knows for sure why, but one theory is that some people had genetic resistance. As those without this genetic resistance died, the disease ran out of vulnerable hosts. The impact of the disease was monumental, a major factor in the decline of the Feudal system in Western Europe. We are less sure about the course of the disease in Asia. It did not totally disappear and outbreaks occured until aboutb 1750. Bubonic plague can now be treated with anti-biotics. It has been reported in Western areas of the United States, but mostly persists in isolated areas. Some 3 million Europeans repotrdly died in these outbreaks.

New World Pandemic (1500-1800)

Noone has yet named the New Worlkd Pandemic. Columbus' discivery of the New World (1492) led to an influx of Europeans into first the Caribbean and then South and North America. They brought with them diseasers for which Amer-Indian peoples had no resustamce. They had been separated from Eurasia for more than 10,000 years. Agriculture and the domesticatiion of animals had led to major diseases like smallpox and measeles to which Europeans, Africans, and Asians had developed a degree of immunity. Amrer-Induans had no such immunity. The diseases were one of the reasons that Cortez and Pizzaro had such success against the huge Aztec and Inca armies. It is belived that something like 90 percent of the Amer-Indian population perished.

Smallpox (1640-1979)

Smallpox was a virulent disease which ravaged mankind. The pathogen is the virus Variola minor. There is no real acoount of the massive death toll, but one report suggests some 300 million people in just the 20th century. Many who did not die of the disease were marked with scared faces and some were blinded. The facial diusfiguratiin gave rise to the name if the duseaase. The origin of the disease is unknown. It may date back to ancient Egypt. The disease is believed to have existed in pre-history. It appeaes to have raged the world for some 3,000 years. Rashes that blook like smallpox have been found on three mummies (3rd century). The disease now identified as smallpox was reoorted in Japan. probably brought from China and Korea (6th century). A deadly outbreak in Japan with some 1 million casualties occurred (745=37). Arab expansion spreads smallpox into northern Africa, Spain, and Portugal (7th century). The Crusades further spread smallpox in Europe (11th century). Portuguese occupation introduced s smallpox into part of western Africa (15th century). Spanish Conquistadores introduced saallpox to the New World (late-15th cebntury). Ameriindians had no resistance to the disease and were devestated. It was one reason that very small European forces were able to bring down powerful Amer-Indian empires like the Aztecs and Incas. Smallpox was noit the only disease, but seems to have been the most deadly. There is no exact account, but perhaps 95 percent of the Native American population appears to have perished. Smallpox was a major reason for it. The death toll in Eurooe was something anong 30mpercent boif thise whi cintracted it. Among Amerinduans it was nuch hugher, something like 95 percent. Even among people of European ancestry it was feared. European colonization and the African slave trade import smallpox into the Caribbean and Central and South America (16th century). European colonization imported smallpox to North America (17th century). A serious pandemic broke out in Europe (1614). There were poeiodic outbreaks (17th and 18th centuries). Smallpox was the most feared disease, often called 'distemper' in colonial America. Benjamin Franklin was afervent advocated for 'inoculation' -- a precursor to modern vaccination (1730s). He used his publications in the casuse. It was till very controversial, considered by many to be the work if the devil. The Franklin family was ireperably damaged when they lost their beloved son Franky after Deborah opposed innoculation. Edward Jenner (1749-1823) developed a cure by developing an actual vaccine using cowpox (1796). James Phipps was the English boy that Jenner used as an experimental subject. The principle was to introduced dead or weakened weakened disease bodies to the individual to help the person's immune system the ability to deal with the disease. Cowpox was a less virulent form of the disease, but helped the system build a resistance to smallpox. Vaccination eventually eliminatedthedisease in the United States and Europe, but was still common in the developing world. The World Health Organization began an massive eradication campign (1959). It failed but was relaunched (1967). Within a decade Asia and Latin America was smallpox free. It took a little longer in Africa. The WHO deckared the world smallpox free (1980). Smallpox today is the the only disease to have been totally eliminated. The technique of innoculation or vaccination was used to combat many other diseases. It led to a great debate when scientists began to work on a polio vaccine after that disease became a huge problem in the 20th century, crippling thouands of children annually. Dr. Albert Sabine worked on a polio vaccine using a weakened form. Jonas Salk argued, however, that polio was to virulent for this approach.

Great Plagues (18th centuty)

Yellow Fever (19th century)

Yellow fever virus appears to have developed in Africa primarily among primates. It was transmitted from non-human primates to humans. [Gould] The virus was transmitted by infected mosquitos. The virus is believed to have originated in East or Central Africa and spread from there to West Africa. As it was endemic in large areas of tropical Africa, smome historians beliece that African populations developed a degree of immunity to it. Others argue that there is no medicak evidence supporting this. [Espiopsa] Twllow fever eas the original term for yellow fever. The name derives from the fact that those jaudices (twllowish) appearnance of many victims. Outbreaks were reported in the New World (16th century). It was almost certainly tarnsferred to the America as a result of the Atlantic Slave Trade. In this case the virus was transmitted by infected mosquitos. The United States experienced many yellow fever out breaks (18th and 19th centuries). It was spread by cargo ships and most affected port cities. Doctors had begun to develop innoculation to prevent breakouts, but into the 19th century this was controversial and not widely adopted outside Eurooe and North America. Like other pandemics, it had an impact on history, in this case American history. Napoleon ammassed a large army, some 50,000 men to reatake Haiti (1802). At the time, Haiti was one of the most valuable territories in the world. Brutal slave plantations producing sugar on Saint Domingo (Haiti) had created vast wealth for France. This ended with the Haitian slave rebellion (1791). Napoleon wanted Saint Domingo and the sugar wealth back. Africans had a degre of immunity, Europeans and Native Americans did not. The French Army was desimated by the yellow fever. Now Napoleon did npt need a 50,000 man army to conquer Haiti. It is widely believed that his real target was North America. He had acquired the Louisina Terrirory back from Spain. And with 50,000 men he could hace reestablished France as a major power in North America. This would have been a major threat to the United States, let alone block the movement west. The U.S. Arny in the early 1800s was only about 2,000-3,000 men and was not nerly as professional let alone battle hardened as the French Army. Fortunatly for America, much of that huge French Army perished in Haiti. As a result, Napoleon decided to sell Louisiana to America for only $13 million--the largest land deal in history (1803). Several decades later, yellow fever would decimate the French effort to build a canal in Panama (1880s). The United States would eventually take over the project. Yellow fever has largely been eradicated in the modern world, but survives in interior areas of Africa amd South America where vaccination efforts are weak and wild forrest monkies are infected.

Cholera Outbreaks (1817-1923)

Cholera is believed to have originated on the Indian subcontinent, This is based on the fact that the diseasw was reported in the region for centuries and was not present in Europe. Outbreaks in the Indian subcontinent were the result of the lack sanitation and density of population combined with the presence of areas of still water all of which provide ideal conditions for cholera bacterium to fester. [Rosenberg] The first European to note cholera was a Dutch physician working in the East Indies (1642). [De Bondt] He also described other unknown diseases. Cholera with the expamding world wide maritime trade gradually spread across the world from its original location in the Ganges River delta (Bay of Bengal). There had been European trade with Europe directly and indirectly (through the Middle East) for centuries. But larger numbers of Eueopeans arrived in India as the English and French vied for control (18th century). And Calcutta near the Ganges Dekta was the a base of English operations. The disease finally began to appear in Eurooe. For some reason in first appeared in Russia (1817) And then soon appeared in other European countries as well as America and the rest of the world. At the time ir was often referred to as 'Asiatic cholera'. Seven cholera pandemics occurred in the ensing two centuries and into the 20th century. . The first Cholera pandemic occurred in Bengal (1817-24). Calcutta was an imprtant intrnational tradeing port and the disease spread to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Eastern Africa. [Hays, p. 193.]. Calcutta was akso visited by the Royal Navy supporting British forces in Bengal. This undoubtedly contrunuted extensive spread of the disease. From Bengal the dosease spread east west from Africa tp Indonesia and north to eastern Asia (China and Japan). A second pandemic racaged North America and Ameica (1926-37). The expamsion of transportation and global trade along with increased human movement. Here both civilains and the military was involved. A third pandemic erupted (1846) and persisted until (1860). This included the London Broad Street outbreak (1854) Dueuing which important understandings aboiiut the duseaedcwere achieved, namelt that bit was linked to drinking water. It encompassed North Africa and reached South America for the first time. Brazil was especially affected. The fourth pandemic lasted longer (1863-75). It spread from India to Naples and Spain. The fifth pandemic again started in India (1881-96). It spread to Europe, Asia, and South America. The sixth pandemic occurred (1899-19230. Gradually the death toll declined as these panfrmics played out. This was because the medical established was incrasonly informed and experience and great advances were made in medical science. Some of the hardest hit areas were Egypt, the Arabian peninsula, Persia, India, and the Philippines. Hamburg (a port city) in Germany experiebed a cholera outbrea (1892). Naples another great port exoerienced an outbreak (1910-11). The severe outbreak began in Indonesia (1961). A new strain, nicknamed El Tor which still persists in developing countries. [Aberth, p. 102.]. Since becoming widespread in the 19th century, cholera has killed tens of millions of people. [Lee, p .131.]

Bubonic Plague (Third Wave: 1855-1959)

The Third Plague appears to have energed from a wild rodent population in remote western China -- Yunnan (1855). It soread througout China, raching Shanghai and Hong Kong--then as now major international ports. From there it spread first to India where more than 12 million died. By the turn of the 20th century it had reached ports around the world. The transmission was the same as the medieval Black Death--flea carrying rats. This pandemic waxed and wained during the first half of the 20th century until it was ended (1959). It is not clear what has caused a decline in the 20th century. One theiry is that the rats have changed, brown rats have been replacing more docile black rats. Becuse of their temernent they are more likely to live apart from humans. The death toll is believed to have been emense, pergaps 150 milliom, but is now a minor disease. But the disease that swept over the ancient andvnedievak world still lives. And it continuous to be dangerous. We now know, however, what causes the plague amd it can be treated and cured with antibiotics and promt medical care. There is no vaccine avbilable for the bubonic plague in the United States because it is so rare. There are vaccines, but the effectivness is debted. So anyone who comes in contact with plague germs has to take steps to protect himself. It is rare in the United States, but more common in Africa, Asia, or South America. WHO judged the Plague Pandemic ended in 1959 becuse of a sharp fall in casualties (to only 200).

Russian Flu (1888-89)

A serious outbreak of influenza began in Russia (1888). At the time viruses had not yet been discovered and the science of virology as a discipline did not yet exist, although studies were underway. Flu struck with a vengeance in the Russian capital of St. Petersburg during the fall. Half the population may have been affected. It spread westward across Europe, reaching Britain. The Russian Tsar, Belgian King, and the Germnan Emperor caught the flu. And in only a few months the United States and othrr countries were affected. Scientists had no idea what caused it, but dictors noted that outbreaks followed important trasport routes, roads, rivers and, most notably in modern times, railway lines. This of course suggeated that the disease was spread by human contact, not by the wind or other natural mechanism. And it meant that stopping it would be very difficult. The Russian Flu is today seen as the first modern flu pandemic. Some 1 million people are belived to have died worldwide.

Spanish Flu (1918-19)

The Spanish Flu was the world's most serious outbreak of influenza. The death toll was something like 50 million people world wide, making it the most serious pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus--referring to proteins in the virus shell. There is no definitive agreement as to where the virus originated, but it does not appear to have been Spain. There is some thought that ir orginated in a Kansas poultry farm near a U.S. Army base and brought to Europe by the World War I American Expeditionary Force. Other vlame a Chinese flew outbreak. Chinese lanoroes also came to Europe. Nobably the Spanish believe it came from France. Bit it was Spain thar git the blame. Spain was one of the very few European countries to stay out of World War I anbd renain neutral. This mean that unlike the beligerant countries, the newsppaers were not nuzzled. There were no wartime censors to suppress unfavorable news. Thus the Spanish press reportrd on the developing pandemic. There were banner headlines (late-May 1918). This as befire there wa any nntion of flew in other countries. And when King Alfonso XIII came down with a nasty case a week later in cemented the idea that the flu originatd in Spain. There was no mebtion of it in ,ost of the rest pf Europe. The disease spread very rapidly. There are various theories. Almost surely World War I was a factir. We have large numbers of men being grouped together in close, often unsanitary conditions, ideal for the spread of disease. And a huge part of the European civilian population was close to starvation. Only American humanitarian relief efforts prevented starvation on a massuve scale. Malnurition of coirse weakens the the body's immune system--ani=other cindutuiin cintributiion to the soread of dusease. The virus was first identifued by U.S, military staff in France (Soring 1918). It quuickly spread beyond Rurooe to the United ststes, Katin anetiuva Afruca, anb Asia. Itbis belieced that a third if the wirld'd population conttacted the dusease--building a substantial heard immunity. Sime 0.7 million of the 50 million deaths were reported in the United States. But the Soanish Flu occured in a new era of science. The Spoanisg=h Flu Pandemic resulted in major advances in public health. And it spawned while new fields of medical research--epidemiology and virology.

Asian Flu (1957-58)

Asian Flu was caused by a H2N2 virus first identified in China (late-February 1957). the Asian flu spread ariund the workd (June 1957). It bwas espoecially leathal in China, but Chinese authorities are bekieved to have hidden the full exrtentb in the official data. The Asian Flu would eventially caus anoit 1.1 million people including about 70,000 Americans. The actual world-wide death toll wiukd provably he higher if ther vhad been accurate reporting from China. Immunity to this strain of influenza was rare, especiallu in people less than 65 years of age. and thus dictors warned of a pandemic. Work on a vaccine began (May 1957). Unlike the I1N1 virus that caused the Spamish Flu pandemic, mist more was known about unflkuenza and biruses. The strain was quickly identified and a vaccine was available, although in only limited quantities at first (August 1957). A series of small outbreaks were reported in the United Srates during the summer of 1957. Then children went back to school (Septemjber). They spread the disease in classrooms and brought it home to their families. Infectiin rates escalted. They were highest among school children, young adults, and pregnant women (October). Deaths reached alarming nimbers (September 1957 - March 1958). The elderly as is usually the case had the highest death rates. Some dictors hoped that the worst was over (December). Ther was, however a second wave, mostly among the eldely (January and February 1958).

Hong Kong Flu (1968-70)

The Hong Kong Flu broke out (1968). Itbwould kill some 1 million peiple world wide. It was caused by an H3N2 virus. The birus was first identified in Hong Kong (July 1968), meaning it porovably originated in China. Serious outbreaks were soom reported in Vietnam and Singapore. Despite the lethality of the 1957 Asian Flu in China had made littkle effort to improive its ability to deal with inflenza and disease outbreaks. Newspaoers in the West began sounding alarms about another possible Chinese origin pandemic. Th Hong Kong Flu reached India, the Philippines, northern Australia, and Europe (September). And by that That same month, the Flu virus entered California, btought by returning Vietnam War troops. It did did not become widespread in the United States until (December 1968). It would eventualky reach Japan, Africa, and South America (1969). In comparison to other pandemics, the Hong Kong Flu exhibited a realtively low death rate. As many other pandemics, the Hong Kong Flu struck in two waves with the second wave odren being more deadlier than the first. The same virus returned the following years, in late 1969 and early 1970, and in 1972. Developing bheard immunity help to diminshnits a affects. The total worldwide death toll is nelieveec tomhave been about 1 million people.

AIDS/HIV (1980s- )

HIV is the sexually transmitted infection which causes AUDS. Furst vuidentified in the 1980s, it has killed motr than 30 million people. AIDS is a chronic and potentially life-threatening condition that compromises the body's immune system. It appoers to have oiginated in Africa when it crossed from chimpanzees to humans, prwsumabkly because of the hunting and consumotion of the chimpanzees. HIV weakens the immune system maling it less able to fightb infection and disese. No cure or vacine has yet been developed, but medications have been developed to inhibit the progress of the disease, making it possible for many infected persons to lead a realatively normal life. The WHO estimates that nearly 40 million people would have contracted the disease (2018).

SARS (2002-03)

Severe Acutre Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was the first important corona virus outbreak. A cornona virus is so name necause electron microscope images show a corona-like array surroundung the virus. It was first identified in Guandoing, China (2002). It is belived to have originated in bats and then jumped to civit cats before making the jump to people. From China it spreaed to more than 25 counties. The death toll was under 1,000.

Swine Flu (2009-10)

A new influenza virus was detected (Spring 2009). It was first found in the United States and soon spread worldwide. It was a new H1N1 virus with a conmination of genes not previiusly noted. WHO decalred it a panemic (June 2009). It eventually sptrad to somne 94 countries and territories.

MERS (2012- )

Middle Easterb Resperatoty Syndrome (MERS) caused by a cirina virus appeared (2012). The origins are not clear, but it first appeared in Jordon. Scientists speculate that it was transmittled from bats to camels before making the deadly jump to humans. All reported cases are linked to countires on or near the Arabian Penminsula. Nearlyn30 countties have reported cases. Less than 1,000 cases have been reported (2019).

Ebola (2014- )

Ebola appears to have origibnated in West Afriac. Patient 0 was an 18-month old boy from a small village in Guinea (December 2013). He apparently contraccted the disease from bats. WHO reported more cases (March 2014). and deckared an international emergency (August). The initial outbreak ended in 2016 before reaching any cities. Ebola has killed about 11,300 people, nearly 50 percenht of thpse affected. Another outbreak occurred in Congo (2018), killing somne 2,000 peoole. There are still reports of confirmed cases (early 2020).

Wuhan / Covid 19 Virus (December 2019)

The ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak began in Whan, a amgor city in Hubei--central China (late-Decemnber 2019). Chinese officials ued their police and security power to discourage any reporting on the outrbreak. The doctor who first reported it was arrested and forced to admit that he was wrong ny Chinese Governnnt autoriries. The brace dictor who spole out would later die from the virus he was forced to say did nit exist. Large numbers of people fled the city. And many infected Chinese peoople traveled to other countries, all permitted by Chinese authorities at first intent on denying that adangerous virus was being spread. Once the Chinese could no longer deny it, they initiated a massive isolation and social distancing program. The Chinese Government adopted the story that the viurus outbreak began from a large animal and seafood market in Wuhan. The market included the sale of wild animals including bats sold for meat. This was allowed even though bats are know carriers if dangerius viruses. In addition to the wet market, there are two bio weapons labortories in Wehan. Scientists at one were actively studyung the viruses being caried by the local bats. The virus has since spread world wide to more than 150 countries. It is also certain that it will reach every country, although the intensity that the virus outbreak will reach in different countries is not yet known. China concinced the U.N. WHO to delay declaring the vurus a pandemic and to aplaud the Chinese Communist Government for how they handeled the disease outbreak. Country after counyty have instituted lockdowns, closed borders, and ordered people to shelter at home. They have banned public gatherings, cancelled major events, and closed schools, churches, and business. Wuhan cases and deaths continue to climb worldwide. One reprt inducated 3.0 million cases world wide, 0.2 million deaths, and 0.9 million recoverer patients (April 2020). [World Metrics] Inevitably the Wthan virus has entered the cultural wars and the Trump is an idiot campaign. The Globelusts who codemm conflate nationalism with xenephonia are the same people who saw not problen in allowing the Chinese totalitatian dictatorship to hollow out American industry, and now refuse to recognize Chinese culpability in the Wuhan crisis. And they are convinced that it is xhenephobic to question America's dependence on China for medical supplies such as masks and pharmecutical compments. .


Aberth, John Plagues in World History. (Lanhamd, Marykand: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011).

Antonius, Marcus Aurelius. Macroimannic Wars.

De Bondt, Jakob. De Medicina Indorum (1642). "Indorum" means modern East Indies (Indonesia).

Espinosa, Mariola. "The question of racial immunity to Yellow Fever in history and historiography," Social Science History Vol. 38, No. 3-4 (Fall/Winter 2014), pp. 437-53.

Exodus (15th-13th centuries). It only began to be written down about 600 BC.

Gould, E.A, X. de Lamballerie, P.M. Zanotto, and E.C. Holmes. (2003). "Origins, evolution, coadaptations within the genus Flavivirus." Advances in Virus Research Vol. 59 (2003), pp. 277–314.

Grant, Michael. Rd. Readings in the Classical Historians.

Hays, J.N. Epidemics and Pandemics: Their Impacts on Human History (ABC-CLIO: 2005).

Kercheval, Howard. "One of the big-league diseases of all time". United Press International.(January 18, 2017).

Lee, Kelley. Health impacts of globalization: towards global governance. (Palgrave Macmillan: 2003).

Liang, Huiganga, Xiang Xiaoweib, Huang Cuia, Ma Haixiac, and Yuan Zhiming. "A brief history of the development of infectious disease prevention, control, and biosafety programs in China," Journal of Biosafety and Biosecurity (January 7, 2020).

Mango, Cyril. Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome (1980).

Procopius. History of the Wars. Vol. II (Anekdota: 558 AD).

Rosenberg, Charles E. The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849 and 1866. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987).


World Metrics. Corona virus.


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Created: 4:03 PM 4/26/2020
Last updated: 1:40 AM 11/3/2020