List of epidemics

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This article is a list of major pandemics and epidemics caused by infectious diseases in human history. Epidemics caused by non-communicable diseases are not on this list.

Top epidemics by death toll[change | change source]

These are pandemics more than 1 million death. Events in boldface are ongoing. For a given epidemic, the average of its estimated death toll range is used for ranking. If the death toll averages of two or more epidemics equal, then the smaller the range, the higher the rank. The most fatal pandemic was the Black Death in Europe duirng the Middle Age.

Epidemics with at least 1 million deaths
Rank Epidemics/pandemics Death toll Date Location Events/References
1 Black Death 75–200 million 1346–1353 Europe, Asia, and North Africa At the beginning of the second plague pandemic, about 30%-60% of the European population killed; one of the most deadliest pandemic in history; no sources found.
2 Spanish flu 17–100 million 1918–1920 Worldwide Studies believe the death toll is around 50 million. It is closely related to the First World War. The first wave of the epidemic was recorded in military camps in Kansas.
3 Plague of Justinian 15–100 million 541-542 Europe and West Asia The beginning of the first plague pandemic was named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Approximately 25%-60% of the European population had died.
4 HIV/AIDS pandemic 35 million+ (as of 2020) 1981–present Worldwide Researchers believe that the virus was transmitted to humans by chimpanzees in West Africa. The earliest cases of AIDS were recorded in Congo as early in 1960s.
5 Third plague pandemic 12–15 million 1855–1960 Worldwide Yunnan originated in the Xianfeng period of the Qing Dynasty and was closely related to the suppression of Huichang in Yunnan by the Qing army. The main deaths occurred in India and China. This pandemic has caused major regional epidemics, such as the Hong Kong plague and the Northeast plague.
6 Cocoliztli Epidemic of 1545–1548 5–15 million 1545–1548 Mexico From 1545 to 1548, the first wave of epidemics died from 5 million to 15 million (about 80% of the Mexican population); the second wave of epidemics from 1576 to 1578 died of 2 million to 2.5 million (about 50% of the Mexican population). May be brought in by the European colonists.
7 Antonine Plague 5–10 million 165–180 (possibly up to 190) Roman Empire Brought back from the Near East by the Roman Empire. This was named after the Roman emperor who was in power at the time.
8 1520 Mexico smallpox epidemic 5–8 million 1519–1520 Mexico Introduced the European "Navigation Discovery" period, the smallpox pandemic played an important role in Spain's conquest of the Aztec Empire.
9 Asian flu 1–4 million 1957–1958 Worldwide It is believed that the virus originated from the type A avian influenza virus that first broke out in Guizhou, China. American microbiologist, Morris Hillerman, had invented a vaccine that saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
Hong Kong flu 1–4 million 1968–1969 Worldwide The Asian influenza virus transferred its antigenic form and broke out for the first time in Hong Kong. At that time, it was also called to be "Mao flu" or "Mao Zedong flu".
10 1918–1922 Russia typhus epidemic 2–3 million 1918–1922 Russia Mainly occurred during the First World War and the Russian Civil War.
12 COVID-19 pandemic 2.5 million+ (as of March 2021) 2019–present Worldwide The pandemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in the fall of 2019.[1] Experts believe there are significant numbers of unreported cases that vary from region to region.[2] From the excess mortality figures available for individual countries, it can be deduced that the actual deaths are significantly higher.[3]
14 Cocoliztli epidemic of 1576 2–2.5 million 1576–1580 Mexico A epidemics from 1576 to 1578 died of 2 million to 2.5 million (approximately 50% of the Mexican population). This disease could might have brought the from the European people after being colonized from America.
15 735–737 Japanese smallpox epidemic 2 million 735–737 Japan In the 6th century AD, smallpox and the Silk Road trade activities spread to Japan and the Korean Peninsula. Since then, about one-third of the Japanese population has died.
1772–1773 Persian Plague 2 million 1772–1773 Persia The second plague pandemic broke out in Baghdad (now the capital of Iran).
16 Naples Plague 1.25 million 1656–1658 Italy The second plague pandemic was introduced from other European countries, mainly affecting the central and southern regions of Italy (the Kingdom of Naples), causing a devastating by almost wipped out the population of Naples.
17 Third cholera pandemic 1 million+ 1846–1860 Worldwide It first broke out in India, and about 1 million people died in the Russian Empire. During this period, the British doctor John Snow used scientific methods to determine the transmission route of cholera and successfully controlled the epidemic. He was hailed as the "father of epidemiology" by the later generations.
18 1629–1631 Italian plague 1 million 1629–1631 Italy In the second plague pandemic, also known as the "Milan plague", about 25% of the Italian population died. In the "Thirty Years' War" (1618-1648) in Europe, the dispatch of troops brought the plague to Italy.
1889–1890 flu pandemic 1 million 1889–1890 Worldwide The first outbreak occurred in the Bukhara region of the Russian Empire. At the same time, there are also reports of outbreaks in Canada, Greenland and other places.

Worldwide Pandemics[change | change source]

Regional[change | change source]

Asia[change | change source]

Central and South America[change | change source]

Europe[change | change source]

Egypt & North Africa[change | change source]

North America[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  • Kuhnke, Laverne. Lives at Risk: Public Health in Nineteenth-Century Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1990.
  • Gallagher, Nancy. Egypt's Other Wars: Epidemics and the Politics of Public Health. Syracuse University Press, c1990. Published by the American University in Cairo Press. ISBN 977-424-295-5
  • Kinch, Michael. Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity. New York: Pegasus Books, 2018. ISBN 9781681777511
  • Rosen, William, Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire and the Birth of Europe, New York: Penguin Random House, 2008 ISBN 9780143113812
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  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Morens, David M.; Taubenberger, Jeffery K. (2011-9). "Pandemic influenza: certain uncertainties". Reviews in medical virology. 21 (5): 262–284. doi:10.1002/rmv.689. ISSN 1052-9276. PMC 3246071. PMID 21706672. Check date values in: |date= (help)
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  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 "Cholera - Cholera through history". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-08-20.
  10. Rolleston, J. D. (1933-12). "The Smallpox Pandemic of 1870–1874: President's Address". Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. 27 (2): 177–192. doi:10.1177/003591573302700245. ISSN 0035-9157. Check date values in: |date= (help)
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  12. June 05, Content Source: HIV govDate last updated:; 2020 (2020-06-05). "What Are HIV and AIDS?". Retrieved 2021-01-15.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
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  15. "Home". Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
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  21. Morens, David M. (2015-7). "The Past Is Never Dead—Measles Epidemic, Boston, Massachusetts, 1713". Emerging Infectious Diseases. 21 (7): 1257–1260. doi:10.3201/eid2107.150397. ISSN 1080-6040. PMC 4480406. PMID 26277799. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  22. "NYCdata: Cholera Outbreak (1849)". Retrieved 2020-08-18.
  23. Watson, Denise. "The Yellow Fever outbreak wiped out 3,000 in Hampton Roads. On Wednesday, they'll be remembered". Retrieved 2020-08-18.
  24. Editors, History com. "First victim of Memphis yellow fever epidemic dies". HISTORY. Retrieved 2020-08-20.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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