History of Pandemics
Evidence of the existence of communicable diseases during the times of earliest civilization is profound. However, the chances of the spread of a disease over a larger region became increasingly high when human civilization shifted to agrarian life. The resultant diseases manifested in malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, influenza, and smallpox. These diseases started to surface only after the shift to agrarian life. In 430 BC in Athens, Greece, evidence of the earliest recorded pandemic can be found. It occurred during the Peloponnesian war and affected Libya, Ethiopia, and Egypt. The outbreak was intense enough to claim the lives of many people constituting at least two-third of the total population at that time. In 165 AD, the Antonine Plague, the Crypian plague in 250 AD, Justinian Plague in 541 AD, Leprosy in the 11th century, Black Death in 1350, Columbian Exchange in 1492, Great Plague of London in 1665, Cholera pandemic of 1817, Third plague pandemic in 1855, Fiji measles in 1875, Russian Flu in 1889, Spanish Flu in 1918, Asian Flu in 1957, Human immunodeficiency virus/Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) since 1981, Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and most recently, the Coronavirus diseases -2019 (COVID-19) pandemic since 2019 form the timeline of pandemics in the history of the world.
Justinian Plague – In 541 BC, the plague of Justinian was recorded in Constantinople. The plague spread out over the Mediterranean Seas from Egypt. The plague spread further when fleas with the bacteria were spread by rats that nibbled on grains. The plague caused the death of 30 to 50 million people. Black Death – Black death is accounted for the first evidence of quarantine of infected patients. Also known as the Bubonic plague, the pandemic affected entire Europe in the Middle Ages; the Black Death affected Europe in 1347 and led to the death of around 200 million people within a period of 4 years. Great Plague of London – Following the Black Death, evidence of the plague caused by the same bacteria is found in history as the plague is claimed to have resurfaced in every decade since Black Death from 1347 to 1665. With each outbreak, at least 20% of the population was swept out.