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TOP-5 largest epidemics in the history of mankind that hit the whole world

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In 2020, the whole world was horrified by the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic, which has already killed 640,000 people. Compared to other epidemics that have already been experienced by humanity, the coronavirus is not so terrible. Let's talk about the 5 largest epidemics in history?

Plague epidemic

Plague is an infectious respiratory disease, the symptoms of which are inflammation of the lymph nodes, lung damage, fever, and the development of sepsis. For a long time, people did not know that this disease is transmitted by airborne droplets, and freely contacted each other, spreading the infection with lightning speed. In different years, plague epidemics broke out in different parts of the world, taking away a huge number of lives:

  • Justinian's plague (551-580) = 100 million dead
  • 1352 Europe = 25 million deaths - a third of Europe's population
  • 1654-1655 years, Russia = 700 thousand victims
  • 1664-1665, London = quarter of the population
  • 1720-1722, Marseille = 100 thousand people
  • End of XIX century, India = 6 million people.

The spread of plague was opposed by the emergence of antibiotics and disinfection - before that, the mortality rate reached 100%. In 2017, an outbreak of plague happened in Madagascar. Of the 12,000 cases, 165 died.

Spanish flu

The Spanish flu, or "Spanish flu" - is one of the deadliest epidemics in the history of mankind. The active spread of the virus began during the First World War, so the Spanish flu is associated with unsanitary conditions in the army. The pandemic lasted from 1918 to 1929, the number of infected - more than 550 million people, which at that time amounted to a third of the world's population. The main symptoms of the Spanish flu are bluish complexion, bloody cough and lung damage. Influenza is characterized by transience: some people have not lived even a day since the first symptoms appeared. It is noteworthy: just as quickly as it appeared, the Spanish flu mutated into a less dangerous strain.


Smallpox is a disease that has been defeated thanks to worldwide vaccination. Before the advent of the smallpox vaccine, more than half a million people died every year in the world, and about the same (possibly more) remained mutilated: people lost their eyesight and acquired scars on their faces. The last case of smallpox infection was recorded in 1977 in Somalia. Laboratories in the USA and Russia still store the strain in laboratories.


Cholera is a particularly dangerous infection that is transmitted through E. coli. The main symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, damage to the small intestine, hypovolemic shock, leading to death. India, Africa, South America, Southeast Asia were the centers of the spread of infection.

From 1816 to 1966, 7 cholera epidemics claimed the lives of several tens of millions of people. In 1830-1831, when Russia was seized by a cholera epidemic, the country was engulfed in "cholera riots" - people rebelled, dissatisfied with the introduction of quarantine. Cholera, alas, has not disappeared: outbreaks sometimes occur in Asia and Africa, but are quickly controlled by antibiotics.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV is called the "plague of the XXI century", but, unlike the plague, there is still no cure for HIV - this is its main danger. In 2019, the number of infected worldwide reached 38 million, and this figure is increasing by 1-2 million annually.

Modern medicine can only control the infection of a person, but not rid him of the virus. The disease is also common in developed countries - China, USA, Russia, Brazil and Africa; both men and women in all segments of the population are affected.

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