A Short History of Pandemics

pandemic is an epidemic that crosses beyond the borders of a country and spreads throughout the world. It is very alarming because it affects a huge number of people.

We are currently experiencing a pandemic that is caused by the COVID-19 virus. The health of all the people around the world has been in great danger since this pandemic started. However, this pandemic is not the first one. Many centuries have passed, and people already experienced a lot of pandemics throughout the years. Listed below are some of the deadly pandemics in history.

Athenian Plague, 430 B.C.E.

This pandemic is the first one recorded in history. The Plague in Athens happened during the second year of the Peloponnesian War, the battle between Athens and Sparta. The disease started in sub-Saharan Africa and spread throughout Ethiopia, Libya, and Egypt. It eventually crossed Persia and Greece and entered the Athenian walls through the ancient port of the city, Piraeus.

This disease’s symptoms included fever, blood in the throat and tongue, thirst, skin lesions, and the red appearance of the skin. People suspected that this disease was typhoid fever. Almost two-thirds of Athens’ population died in this outbreak. This was mainly the reason for the defeat of Athens to the Spartans.

Plague of Galen, 165 A.D.

The Plague of Galen, commonly known as The Antonine Plague, was a pandemic spread throughout the Roman Empire. This disease was suspected to be smallpox or measles. It first started with the Huns, a group of nomadic warriors, who passed the virus to the Germans, who then infected the Romans. These Romans were returning troops, so as they reached Rome, the disease was spread throughout the Roman Empire.

The symptoms that were evident during the Antonine Plague were fever, diarrhea, and sore throat. Infected patients who lived long enough were said to experience pus-filled sores. This plague lasted until 180 A.D. It killed about 5 to 10 million people, and it may have caused the death of the two Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.

Leprosy, 11th Century

Leprosy had been around even before, turning into a pandemic. This disease only became a pandemic during the medieval period in Europe. Leprosy is a bacterial disease that is slowly developing in the body. It causes deformities and sores to the patient. Many people believed that this disease that ran in families was a punishment from God. Aside from the disease, patients also suffered from moral judgments and ostracism.

In the present time, Leprosy was called Hansen’s disease. It still affects thousands of people a year; however, it can be treated with antibiotics.

The Black Death, 1350

This is the second large outburst of the bubonic plague that was believed to start in Asia. This plague started in 1347 A.D. when the victims of the plague arrived at the port of Messina in Sicily. The disease eventually spread around Europe. The plague affected China, India, Syria, Persia, and Egypt.

The disease attacks the lymphatic system, which causes the swelling of the lymph nodes. The symptoms of this disease were swellings with blood and pus, fever and chills, diarrhea, vomiting, awful pain that would eventually lead to death.

The First Cholera Pandemic, 1817

This is the first out of the seven cholera pandemics that happened over the following 150 years. This disease is an infection in the small intestine that started in Russia. One million people in Russia died due to this pandemic. The disease eventually reached the British soldiers through their water and food that was infected by feces. Then the infected soldiers spread the virus to India, which caused the death of millions of more people. Cholera was also spread throughout Spain, Indonesia, Africa, China, Italy, Japan, Germany, and America. They created a cholera vaccine in 1885, but the cholera pandemic still continued.

The Spanish Flu, 1918

The Spanish Flu was an avian-borne disease that started in 1918. It started in Europe, the United States, and some parts of Asia, and then it eventually spread throughout the world. During those times, they weren’t able to develop an effective drug or vaccine to treat the Spanish Flu, so it killed 50 million people worldwide. The flu outbreak first started in Madrid, which is why this pandemic was called the “Spanish Flu.”

COVID-19, 2019

posters taped on the walls of the train, people sitting inside a train, people wearing face masks, 

This pandemic we are currently experiencing is caused by a novel coronavirus. The first case that was reported was in China and then spread throughout every country in the world, killing 2.44 million people worldwide.

The symptoms of this virus are fever, dry cough, loss of taste and smell, difficulty of breathing, and which can lead to pneumonia. The virus can be spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes.