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Learning From The Past: The Biggest Epidemics And Pandemics Of All Time

A disease outbreak is an epidemic, but it becomes a pandemic when it spreads beyond the particular country’s border. In this post, we’ll discuss five major pandemics in history that the world can’t forget. Although these pandemics had adverse effects on every aspect of human life, they also greatly influenced the development of the healthcare sector, as their study helped produce numerous cures and vaccines and prepare against future pandemics.

The American Plague

This pandemic occurred long ago, in the 16th century. It happened majorly in the Americas; this cluster of different diseases, like smallpox, cholera, malaria, chickenpox, syphilis, and many others, was thought to have been introduced to the Americas by explorers from Europe. 

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The American Plague in the 16th century affected most of the population and killed about 90% of the indigenous population of the Western Hemisphere. Basic precautions were taken to prevent the spread of this disease as the health sector was still underdeveloped. 

The 1918 Flu Pandemic

This major pandemic, popularly known as the Spanish Flu, occurred between 1918 and 1920. Surprisingly, it didn’t originate from Spain. It is thought to have originated from Kansas in the United States. It occurred all around the world at an alarming rate.

Courtesy: USA Today

The 1918 Flu infected over 500,000,000 people and caused the death of about 50 million people, with some claims that the death toll was up to 100 million. To prevent further spread of the flu, nations adopted quarantine and movement restrictions; they also enforced the use of masks. 

The Black Death

The black death is one of the most devastating pandemics ever. It occurred between 1346-1353. It is said to have started in China before spreading to the Mediterranean and northern parts of Africa and then to Britain and Scandinavia. It affected the entire world. 

The black death can be said to be the most disastrous pandemic ever in the world’s history. It caused the deaths of about 75 to 200 million people, especially in Europe. During the black deaths, precautions like social distancing, quarantine, and disinfection were used.

Flu pandemic

The flu pandemic happened in 1889 and was widely spread until about 1890. The first case of this pandemic was in Russia, and within a few weeks, it had spread all over Europe and most parts of the world. Advanced transportation systems aided the spread of the Flu.

Courtesy: Healthline

Over 500 million people were infected, and about 1 million died globally. Quinine and phenazone were used to prevent the spread of the Flu, although there was no official drug. Isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, and the use of disinfectants were enforced to reduce the spread. 


The Covid-19 is one of the most popular pandemics in history. It occurred as recently as 2019. Just like the black death, Covid-19 also originated in China and spread at an alarming rate worldwide. Over 600 million people have been infected. 

Courtesy: Tai’s Captures

The coronavirus has caused over 6 million deaths globally, with new cases recently being discovered. During the major wave of COVID-19, lots of restrictions were placed to prevent further spread. Vaccines were also used for prevention. Some preventive measures used are nose masks, quarantine, isolation, and social distancing. 

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