History's Worst Epidemics: Top Ten

History |

Plagues, Pandemics and Other Diseases

10. Third Cholera Pandemic, 1852 - 1860: This epidemic had the most deaths of any 19th century epidemic. It began in India and spread across the globe all the way to North America. It caused over 400,000 deaths worldwide. This outbreak helped Dr. Jon Snow discover the cause of cholera to be tainted water.

9. The Asian Flu Pandemic of 1957: This outbreak began in China. The estimated deaths across the globe were between 1 million and 4 million. In 1957, a vaccine was created which helped to end the pandemic.

8. The World War I Typhus Epidemic: This outbreak originated with lice carrying the typhoid bacteria. Delousing stations were setup to help curb the outbreak. In three years, over 2 million Russians were killed by typhus.

7. Cocolitzli: This includes diseases such as ebola. Cocolitzli dessimated the Aztec population in less than a century. 

6. The Plague of Justinian: This plague was brought to Constantinople by infected rats from Egypt. The plague seriously weakened the empire due to the loss of skilled workers from the disease. In just the first wave, 40 percent of the population in Constantinople was eliminated. 

5. Antonine Plague: This occurred in the Roman Empire and was brought back by soldiers returning from fighting in western Asia. It claimed the lives of 5 million people. 

4. Third Plague Pandemic 1855-1959: This outbreak of the bubonic plague was spread by rats from China across the globe. This pandemic killed 12 million people just between China and India. 

3. HIV/AIDS: The first reported case of HIV in humans was in 1959 in Africa. The battle against AIDS has been raging for 30 years, but scientists have made large steps to elongate the lifespans of those diagnosed. 

2. 1918 Flu Pandemic: This flu pandemic affected 500 million people, killing up to 100 million, and it mainly affected healthy adults. This particular strain caused immune systems to go into overdrive and attack healthy cells, so the healthier you were, the more susceptible you were to death.

1. The Black Death: The Black Death is thought to have killed up to 200 million people. It occurred between the 14th and 17th centuries. This disease caused tumors to cover the body. 

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