We’ve always feared diseases of any form. And why shouldn’t we? Some of it has caused some of the greatest and most terrible epidemics and pandemics the world has ever seen. Even now, strains like Ebola and Cholera are rampaging at various areas in the world!
Luckily, we’ve come a long way in the field of health science, organizing healthcare systems and inventing medicine for diabetes and other diseases. Hopefully, it’ll all be enough to face any future viruses. After all, nobody wants to relive those massive outbreaks that had wreaked havoc across the world in the past, like the following listed below.
You don’t have to look too far in the past to know one of mankind’s greatest and deadliest pandemic; in fact, it’s still on-going in many parts of the world! HIV of Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a retrovirus that causes AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a disease that destroys a person’s immune system and makes the victim vulnerable to all kinds of other illnesses, with fatal consequences!
Ever since the first case of HIV/AIDS in Congo was brought to light in 1951, the disease has infected around 60 million people and killed 25 million of these victims!
1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic
The 2009 swine flu outbreak may have caused quite a scare in recent years, but it pales in comparison with the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic. The pathogen itself, a subtype of the H1N1 strain similar to that of the 2009 swine flu disease, has killed more than 200,000 people in the US alone since its first case in Kansas in March 1918!
The worst part is the disease did not only break out in American shores; it also spread in many parts of the globe, assisted to some extent by the outbreak of World War I. And though it mysteriously burned out and disappeared a year later, the grave and irreversible damage had already been done. The pandemic claimed over 50 million lives, and half of these only during the first 25 weeks!
There are many good reasons why the Middle Ages are also known as the Dark Ages, and the Black Death is one of them. Also called “The Great Mortality,” it was indeed the greatest pandemic of all time! In just four years it claimed the lives of around 75 to 200 million people in Europe; that’s around 50% to 70% of the entire population in the continent back then!
The pandemic got its name from the black spots of the sailors who first caught the disease. Travelling across the Silk Road and eventually landing in a Sicilian port, these men unknowingly brought the virus that would quite literally cause hell on earth! Today, we know the disease as the Bubonic Plague, characterized by swollen lymph nodes in the armpit and groin area of the body.
Though cholera outbreaks aren’t as fearsome as the other three mentioned above, it’s nevertheless a serious disease to deal with. It’s estimated that there are 3 to 5 million new cases of cholera each year, with around 120,000 patients dying. Even now it’s causing trouble in Haiti, claiming more than 8,500 lives already!
Cholera is named after the strain that caused it, Vibrio cholera. Its symptoms include violent episodes of diarrhea and vomiting, which could prove fatal due to the severe imbalance of bodily fluids it can bring about.
Half of these pandemics happened in the past and it will stay there. The other half, though, still continues to pester the world. Thus, we should ready ourselves to face these current outbreaks as well as any future epidemics and pandemics that might take its place.