Pandemics that devastated the world

The world we live in is attacked by a virus that devastates the world's population without a high mortality rate. But pandemics are nothing new. Throughout history, five viruses have reduced the population of the planet before the dreaded COVID-19 arrives.


Effects of smallpox, photo by George Henry Fox (1886) Photographic representations of skin diseases (2nd ed.), Public Domain, Link

There are paleontological tests that have already confirmed the existence of this disease caused by the Variola virus in 10,000 BC. BC Confirm. Therefore, it is the one who has claimed the most victims throughout history.
The symptoms of smallpox are: fever, malaise, headache and body ache, and sometimes vomiting. The fever is generally high and can go up to 38-40ºC. At this time, the appearance of pustules is characteristic.


Measles is a highly contagious disease of viral origin that has been eliminated thanks to the development of the preventive vaccine in almost all countries in the world. It is still capable of causing outbreaks of infection, especially in populations without vaccines, and has a high mortality rate. Between 1958 and 1967, more than 280,000 cases with almost 20,000 deaths were diagnosed. Fortunately, no further deaths have been counted since the vaccine was launched in 1993.

By Harris & Ewing photographers: Public Domain, Link
The Spanish flu

The 1918 influenza pandemic, which was mistakenly referred to as "Spanish flu", was an unusually serious pandemic caused by an outbreak of the H1N11 subtype influenza A virus.
Unlike other flu epidemics, which usually affect mostly children and the elderly, this virus is most common in adolescents and middle-aged adults. It is considered the deadliest pandemic in human history, reducing the population to 20 to 40 million people in just one year. This death toll, which included high child mortality rates, is considered one of the greatest examples of mortality crises.

The black plague

The black plague, also called "black death", is perhaps the most famous pandemic of the people. According to the data that the researchers are currently offering us, the first outbreak occurred in Asia and then reached Europe via trade routes. The ships from Asia were imported and landed in Messina for the first time in Europe and reached the highest peak of infection between 1347 and 1353.
It is difficult to know the number of deaths, but in the 21st century the estimates of the studies carried out on the bacterium Yerninia Persis ended a third of the European population.

Photo credits: C. Goldsmith, content provider: CDC / C. Goldsmith, P. Feorino, E.L. Palmer, W.R. McManus – Public Domain Link

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the cause of AIDS disease (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). When a person succumbs to HIV, the virus attacks and weakens the immune system. When the immune system weakens, the door to other diseases, whether fatal or not, opens wide. If the virus penetrates the body, it stays in it for life.
HIV is mainly transmitted through unprotected sex (including anal and oral sex), blood transfusions already infected with HIV, contaminated needles and from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
In 2014, approximately 36.9 million people lived with HIV and the mortality rate was 1.2 million deaths.

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