Epidemics have always accompanied humanity. They were an important episode in the human struggle against invisible diseases that often caused the depopulation of entire continents. Global viruses affect all people, regardless of their social status, place of residence, lifestyle, profession, health status, or even age. Avian and swine flu has been a high-profile incident in recent years, as well as the Ebola epidemic. Another big problem is the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. Acute respiratory syndrome (coronavirus) is spreading around the world as quickly as other worldwide pandemics. Let’s come back to history and get to know the biggest and most dangerous pandemics that can be compared to coronavirus one.
AIDS in 1981
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) was discovered by Luc Montagnier’s team at the Pasteur Institute in 1983, but its history is likely much longer. The Russians announced that HIV was created in the United States during work on biological weapons in 1986. However, these claims were rejected by the scientific world as propaganda.
There is a hypothesis that this disease was created by humans. Moreover, even that the virus itself was deliberately introduced into the American homosexual community as part of an experiment.
Scientists recorded a number of very rare cases of extremely rare diseases among young, previously healthy men with a homosexual orientation in New York and California in 1981. They soon developed the same immune defect – a violation of cellular immunity caused by a significant decrease in T-lymphocytes.
The disease became intensively studied, and over time it was proved that AIDS arose before 1981, not only in America. The disease was observed as early as in 1975, other evidence suggests that it happened even earlier.
Many scientists speculate that the HIV virus was harmless before the AIDS pandemic began. However, as a result of genetic changes, it has become very virulent. Scientists are leaning towards the thesis that HIV existed among isolated populations for many years before the epidemic. Changes in lifestyle and hygiene, migration and travel have increased the spread of the virus.
2009–2010: swine flu
The real swine flu pandemic shook the world in 2009 and 2010. A new mutation of the A / H1N1 virus first appeared in Mexico in March-April, 2009. The infection almost immediately caused the death of sick people.
The virus spread rapidly. About 159 people died from it in the first month alone. Immediate response from authorities, the closure of government offices and a mass vaccination campaign helped to stop the infection.
Swine flu originated in Canada and spread to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and America. The virus was not fatal until 2009. A mutation in the H1N1 strain, which also included traditional influenza, combined with swine flu, yielded the deadly A / H1N1 virus.
The WHO’s (World Health Organization) response was immediate: on June 11, 2009, the sixth risk of a disease, or pandemic, was declared. It lasted until August 2010. The WHO reported on July 6, 2009 that the novel A / H1N1 pandemic is the fastest spreading pandemic in history and it is pointless to record single cases of the disease. Therefore, today it is not known exactly how many victims were consumed by the pandemic. Between 150,000 and nearly 600,000 people were affected. The assessment included both direct victims and those who died as a result of complications.
Multiple returns of cholera
The world experienced six cholera epidemics in the 19th century. They covered almost all corners of the globe. Cholera is called the disease of poverty and filth for a reason. The most common cause of infection is food and water contaminated from sick people.
London had two main pumps supplying the population with water from the Thames during one of the epidemics. Doctors noticed that many more cases had happened in the pump area. This concerned those pumps that worked below the place where urban waste is dumped into the Thames. Turning off this pump helped to control cholera, although not completely eliminate it. For example the epidemic affected more than 5 percent of the Chicago population.
The number of cases of the disease was reduced thanks to the research of the German scientist Robert Koch, who discovered the causative agent of the infection.
1918: Spanish flu
It was the worst flu epidemic in history. Up to a million people died from the same disease between 1889 and 1890. The Spanish pandemic is a condition caused by a deadly virus. It began at the end of World War I and claimed the lives of millions by the spring of 1919.
The lowest estimates put the death toll in excess of 30 million. The highest reaches 100 million. Many factors contributed to this. Viruses were not known at the time, so doctors did not know what actually had caused the disease. The 1918 virus was extremely dangerous. It struck young people especially strongly.
Black Death is an infectious disease that could be transmitted from rodents and human lice. The first traces of this disease appeared in the 1320s in Mongolia. Then the plague entered China, which suffered from it in 1331-1353. In 1345 this disease went to Crimea.
The patients experienced typical symptoms of infection with an infectious disease: malaise, general weakness, chills, severe cough, fever, inflammation, and vomiting of blood. Wounds appeared on their bodies – black spots formed by the death of tissues. The patient died a few days after infection.
The Black Death was not only a European phenomenon. Approximately 100,000 people have been affected by this virus. About 30-40% of Muslims from the Levant and North Africa died.
The coronavirus pandemic claims a place in world history. The infection is spreading rapidly and doctors are worried about the lack of medicine and vaccine. The most relevant news about the pandemic will be reflected by the Russian Supercomputer center.