People are scared. The media is reporting it is the end of the world, and the stores show it. Stores, restaurants, and bars are closing down for safety. The CDC is trying there best to calm the masses, but their messages are falling on deaf ears. What the people don’t realize is this isn’t mankind’s first rodeo when it comes to pandemics, and when you look over the numbers this one isn’t so bad. The totals are a rough estimate based on historical records, as our understanding of medicine grows, these numbers have increased over time.
5. Swine Flu (H1N1)
Last Record Pandemic: 2009
Infected: 700 Million
This is the second biggest H1N1 pandemic in history. It had a small outbreak in 1976, but it quickly ended due to the mass immunization program. This particular pandemic occurred in the US in April 2009. Scientists believe that a human influenza strain combined with the Eurasian pig flu strain. What makes this virus more unique then the other cases of flu is it’ll attack both the young and the elderly. Today, it is still an active novel strain of influenza. However, due to a well-developed vaccine, it is much weaker than before and more preventable.
4. The Black Death (Bubonic Plague)
Last Recorded Pandemic: 1352
Killed: 25 Million
The Black Death pandemic is one of the most historically altering events that occurred in world history. Whole towns were burned to the ground. Countries were wiped out in a matter of days. At the time, nobody was safe and they had no idea what was happening. The modern medicine we know today is a relatively new concept. It emerged after the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century with the discovery of penicillin. This was many decades after the Black Death. What makes this disease scarier is the bacteria responsible for it, Yersinia Pestis, still infect people today. Don’t panic though, thanks to modern-day pest control and cleaning products we barely see a hundred cases a year. If you are one of these unlucky hundred people there is a vaccine available.
3. Spanish Flu (H1N1)
Last Recorded Pandemic: 1920
Infected: 500 million
Killed: 50 million
This is the first official H1N1 pandemic in history. It began in March of 1918 at the top military training base of the time in Fort Riley, Kansas. In two months hundreds of soldiers had fallen ill with the new flu strain. As cases grew Woodrow Wilson was tasked with a tough decision; hold the soldiers back or send them to battle. Around this time America had just entered World War One, so Wilson chose to send the healthy, but exposed, troops to the battlefields in Europe. H1N1 took full advantage of these overcrowded ships and close quarter combat conditions and it spread like wildfire across the globe, infecting millions. It is a proven fact that more people died of H1N1, then the war at this time.
Last Recorded Pandemic: Ongoing
Infected: 76.3 Million (with 5,000 new cases a year)
Dead: 39 million (to date)
Everyone is familiar with AIDS. It has been one of the most talked-about health discussions in the world today since cases began to increase drastically in the 70s. Scientists believe it began among the monkey population in Central and West Africa, primarily in the Congo region. It began spreading among humans in 1959. AIDS interferes with the body’s immune system, making it difficult for the sufferer to fight off infections. HIV is closely related to AIDS and can cause it to develop in a person. At this time, it is spread primarily through physical contact with bodily fluids. It is a lifelong illness, so once you get it, you have it forever. There is no known cure available, but doctors are working hard to develop. But, there is an anti-retroviral therapy treatment that has been proven to dramatically slow the disease, allowing the sufferer to live longer, fuller lives.
Last Recorded Pandemic: 1949
Dead: 500 Million (That we know of)
Smallpox is the oldest known disease in the world. It has been around since 3rd Century BC. Because of how long it has been in existence, it is unclear how many people have died or have been infected with Smallpox. It is rumored that more people have died of Smallpox then in all of the wars combined. No one knows where it came from, but we do know of a sister virus found in cows. This illness left much destruction in its wake. This was the disease responsible for nearly wiping out the Native American tribes in North and South America. Those who were lucky to survive were left scared forever. Today, we do not fear Smallpox since the WHO reported it was officially eradicated as of 1996 and the last outbreak occurred in 1979. As of now Smallpox only exists in medical labs and the world has long forgotten about it. But, due to the increase of the anti-vaccination people no longer get the Smallpox shot anymore which leads many scientists fearing that Smallpox will come back in a hard way.