World Epidemics

The following was published in 1999 on this list -

1732 - 1733 World-wide Influenza

1775 - 1776 World-wide Influenza. {One of the worst flu epidemics}

1847 - 1845 World-wide Influenza

1857 - 1859 World-wide Influenza. {One of the disease's greatest epidemics}

1873 - 1875 North America & Europe Influenza 1918 - World-wide Influenza 14th century.

The Black Death; an outbreak of bubonic plague, was the most devastating single epidemic of all time, killing probably a third or more of the population of Europe and Asia. It originated in central Asia and had already killed an estimated 25 million people before it reached Constantinople in 1347.

From there it was spread around the Mediterranean by merchant ships and by crusaders returning from the middle east. By 1350 it had spread throughout Europe, and at least another 25 million people had died. The social upheaval that ensued is generally regarded as the end of the Middle Ages. Outbreaks of bubonic plague continued sporadically in various European locations throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1499 Plague struck London, causing thousands of deaths, being the first of a number of outbreaks in that city. During the years 1507-1551 England was struck several times by a mysterious disease characterised by profuse sweating. After the last outbreak in 1551, it disappeared permanently, and has never been identified unequivocally with any modern disease.

In the 1560s Bubonic plague struck and London suffered in 1563, and was probably its worst outbreak ever, killing an estimated quarter to a third of the population. Subsequent outbreaks occurred in 1578, 1593, 1603, 1625, 1636, and 1665, each time killing thousands. In terms of proportion of the total population destroyed, the 1563 and 1665 epidemics were the worst.

In 1665 The Great Plague of London killed at least 20% of the city's population, perhaps as many as 100,000 people. During 1826-37 the second cholera pandemic of the 19th century; and the most devastating one, began in Bengal and spread through India in 1826. It reached Afghanistan in 1827, and spread further into central Asia and the Middle East. By late 1830 it had reached Moscow, and from there spread westward into Europe in 1831. It reached England on a ship from Hamburg in October 1831 and spread throughout the British Isles. It reached New York in 1832, and spread from there throughout most of USA. In 1849 the third major world-wide pandemic of cholera; again starting in Bengal, reached Europe and the USA in 1848-49.

The English physician John Snow demonstrated in 1854 that it was spread by contaminated water.

In 1889-90 a world-wide epidemic of influenza, the most devastating to that time, began in central Asia in the summer of 1889, spread north into Russia, east to China and west to Europe. By December it had struck the major American cities, and continued to spread through North America the following year. Parts of Africa and the Middle East were infected early in 1890; and India, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand were reached between February and May.

Completing the circle, eastern China had the last major outbreak of this pandemic, in September and October of 1890. 1917-1919 The most lethal influenza pandemic ever killed half a million people world-wide. Its spread was facilitated by troop movements in the closing months of World War I. Mortality rates were unusually high for flu, especially among young, otherwise healthy adults. Deaths occurred both from the flu itself and from secondary pneumonia.

The 2nd world war saw much advertising for health care, one slogan went: -

"Coughs & Sneezes Spread Deceases - Catch your Germs in Your Handkerchiefs"

Post-War years saw more flue epidemics with "Asian Flue" through to present day in 2003 when we are suffering with "Fuji Flue" - but happily these situations are now under control with annual vaccinations.