COVID-19 has now spread to more than 4 million people worldwide, and this wave of such a severe outbreak is seen as unexpected by some scientists. In fact, there have been many epidemics of infectious diseases in human history, and we have introduced the well-known large-scale list of epidemics in history.

Black Death

Black Death from the year 1346-1353 was arguably the largest plague in the Middle Ages. The main vector of transmission was fleas and lice in rats, which were found in the mice, which is then transmitted to humans causing infection. Black death symptoms include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain and tremor. It is called black death because of the bleeding and darkening of the tissues of the patient.

Black Death began in Asia and spread to Europe. Scientists estimate that about half of Europe’s population died at that time, and in the long run, the black death outbreak significantly reduced Europe’s working population has not only contributed to the disintegration of slavery, but also to the subsequent renaissance and religious revolutions. But what many people don’t know is that the Black Death isn’t the only one – it was followed by the London Plague in 1665-1666, the Marseille Plague in 1720-1723, and the The Moscow plague in 1770~1772, although scientists were unable to determine whether the virus was identical in these times, it was certain that the plague caused more than 100,000 deaths.

The plague pandemic called Cocoliztli in the 16th century

Cocoliztli in Aztec means “pest”, the Cocoliztli pandemic occurred in Mexico and Central America in 1545-1548, is a viral bleeding viral hemorrhagic fever, which killed 15 million people. A 2018 study reported that scientists detected Salmonella from the remains of an infectious disease, which causes Typhoid (fever), symptoms include high fever, dehydration, and gastrointestinal problems. Salmonella is a major bacterial infection even though modern medicine is well developed.

The American plague pandemic of the 16th century

The geographical discoveries of European history refer to the 15th-17th century. Europeans who landed in the Americas in the 16th century spread smallpox in addition to trade transport. The two empires that dominated America at that time were the Inca Empire and the Aztec Empire, which many scientists believed was the main reason why the Inca Empire and the Aztec Empire would eventually be attacked by European countries such as Spain. Soldiers infected with smallpox had a weakened overall defenses due to poor health, or because too many people died from smallpox, a shortage of troops led to the collapse of the empire.

Yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia, 1793

The summer of Philadelphia in 1793 was particularly hot and humid, and the weather was also a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, which is the main vector of yellow fever. Yellow fever is an acute infectious disease caused by yellow fever virus. Patients entering the poisoning phase have a mortality rate of about 20 to 50% within 7 to 10 days. Although the weather turns cold and mosquitoes no longer appear which had stopped the spread, the fever had already killed more than 5,000 people.

1918 Spanish influenza pandemic

The outbreak of Spanish influenza between January 1918 and December 1920 was a new type of influenza H1N1, or a subtype of influenza A virus H1N1. The outbreak ranges from the South Pacific to the northern hemisphere. In addition, because of malnutrition in most of the population and the concentration of soldiers after the First World War, 500 million people were infected, which is equivalent to one quarter of the world’s population at that time. Although it is called the Spanish flu, in fact, the origin of the virus was not in Spain, but the warring countries controlled the number of outbreaks reported in the media to avoid affecting morale. Spain was not involved in the war at that time, so the impact of the epidemic was heavily reported. Other countries also mistakenly believed that only Spain was facing a serious outbreak, so it was called the “Spanish flu”.

Read: List of History Epidemics – Epidemiological Diseases

H1N1 in 2009

H1N1, a type of influenza A virus, originated in Mexico. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 140 million people were infected during the H1N1 infection, and the death toll was around 151,700 and 55,400 people, the majority of H1N1 infected people are young children or young adults. About 80% of the deaths are under 65 years of age. According to scholars, perhaps the elderly have sufficient immunity to resist the influenza A virus, so fewer people are infected. And today the H1N1 vaccine is already included in the flu vaccine.

Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016

In December 2013, the first patient with Ebola Virus Disease was confirmed in the Republic of Guinea in West Africa, after which the virus spread rapidly in West Africa, compared with the sporadic diagnoses in the United States and Europe. Between 2014 and 2016, 28,600 people were infected and 11,1325 died. Ebola virus existed earlier, in 1976 in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it originated from bats, but the Ebola vaccine is still under development.

Zika virus from 2015 to date

Zika virus infection is caused by Zika virus and is spread in Central and South America, and there are also some cases in the southern United States. The main route of transmission of the Zika virus is mosquito bites, especially mosquitoes, also known as Aedes, Edides, or Adis; it may also be sexually transmitted, causing birth defects in newborns.

COVID-19 Coronavirus from 2019

Viral pneumonia case cluster has been developed in Wuhan City, Hubei Province since December 2019. According to a survey by the health authorities, the pathogen is a novel coronavirus.

Image by K. Kliche from Pixabay

The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 include fever, weakness, dry cough and dyspnea. Other symptoms include nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, rash or discoloration of the fingers or toes. Some infected people have only mild or unnoticeable symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, about 20 per cent of patients are seriously ill and have dyspnea. Patients who are older or  with chronic diseases (e.g. hypertension, cardiopulmonary disease, diabetes or cancer) are more likely to develop serious conditions.

Propagation via respiratory droplets is the main route of transmission and can also be transmitted through contact. The current estimate for the incubation period is mostly 1 to 14 days, the most common being around 5 days.

At present, there is no vaccine against this epidemic. The public must always observe personal hygiene and keep their hands clean. Do not touch animals while travelling; do not eat game meat; and avoid going to wet markets, live poultry markets or farms.

Read: H1N1 Swine flu Explained