Healthcare has been one of the prime concerns across the world. Though the number of students opting for medical studies is increasing, the quality of medical facilities is not up to the standards, especially in the case of the lower-income groups. Technological advancements may have reduced the intensity or frequency of some diseases, but still, there are some Scariest Disease that has not perished yet. Especially, the disease outbreaks affecting a large number of people (pandemics) are even more dangerous to society and need to be cured quickly.
Presently, the world is affected by one of the most dangerous diseases named ‘Coronavirus’. Having originated in China, this disease is rapidly affecting many countries, and speed at which it is proliferating all over the world is threatening people big time. Over the world, close to 7,113,012 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed out of which around 406549 people have died. The virus has impacted several industries such as healthcare, real estate, financial, IT, communication services in China as well as all over the world. Many rumors about the symptoms of the disease and the necessary precautions are also being spread.
Place of Origin: China
Time or Date of Origin: 2019
Number of Total Cases: 395,579 (As of 24th March 2020)
Number of Deaths: 17,234 (As of 24th March 2020)
However, this is not the first case that a disease has threatened peoples’ lives. In the past also, there have been several scariest disease outbreaks that have significantly scared the common people.
We take you back to the 10 scariest disease outbreaks in history
1. Plague of Justinian
Place of Origin: Constantinople
Time or Date of Origin:542 CE
Number of People affected: 30-50 Million
One of the worst outbreaks of the plague took place during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 541-542 CE. Almost a year after its first appearance in the empire, the disease arrived in Constantinople in 542 CE. The scariest disease continued to impact the Mediterranean world for a whopping 225 years before finally disappearing in 750 CE. The means of plague transmission was the black rat, which traveled on the carts and grain ships sent to Constantinople as a tribute.
This Plague weakened the Byzantine Empire in both political and economic ways. Trade throughout the empire was interrupted; specifically, the agricultural sector was hugely affected.20-40% of residents from Constantinople were reported to perish and through the rest of the empire, 25% population (Approximately 30 to 50 million people) died due to this scariest disease outbreak.
2. The Black Death
Place of Origin: Central Asia
Time or Date of Origin:1347
Number of People affected: 25 to 30 million
A plague pandemic that destroyed Europe from 1347 to 1352 CE is popularly known as ‘The Black Death’. Originated in Central Asia, the disease was taken from there to the Crimea by the Mongol traders and warriors. It was carried by rats on the Genoese trading ships sailing from the black sea and entered Europe via Italy. Almost 30% to 50% people of the affected places were estimated to be dead. The death toll ranged from 25 to 30 million in numbers.
There were severe consequences of such a large number of deaths. The social structure of society was broken down. Many towns and villages were completely abandoned. A shortage of farmers resulted in demands for an end to serfdom. It took almost 200 years for the European population to recover from this deadly disease.
3. The Great Plague of London
Place of Origin: China
Time or Date of Origin:1331
Number of People affected:100,000
The last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in London was the Great plague of London. This epidemic was the extension of the bubonic plague that originated in China in 1331 and lasted from 1665 to 1666. The primary cause of the plague was Yersinia pestis bacterium which is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected rat flea. This plague killed almost a quarter of London’s population in merely 18 months. The number of deaths was estimated to be around 100,000.
It largely affected the poor in London as they could not leave the city as easily as the rich could. London was largely rebuilt and the Parliament passed the Rebuilding of London Act 1666. This rebuilding took over 10 years and after the rebuilding, London was rejuvenated and hence became a healthier environment to live.
4. The Third Cholera Pandemic
Place of Origin: India
Time or Date of Origin: 1846
Number of People affected: 23000
This was the third major outbreak of Cholera around the world and was considered the most deadly among all Cholera Pandemics. Originating in India in the Nineteenth century, this scariest disease reached far beyond its border. It devastated large parts of Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. The disease threatened for a long duration as it started in 1846 and lasted until 1860.
In London alone, 10000 people died while around 23000 people died across all of Great Britain. British physician John Snow found that contaminated water was one of the major means of transmission of the disease. While inspecting the Cholera cases in the Soho area, Snow successfully found the source as a water pump. After removing the pump handle, the number of deaths surprisingly reduced.
5. The Spanish Flu
Place of Origin: Data Inadequate
Time or Date of Origin: Data Inadequate
Number of People affected: 40 million to 50 million
The 1918 Influenza pandemic is generally known as ‘The Spanish Flu’. This was a very deadly influenza pandemic and the first one of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus. The exact origin of the disease could not be determined due to inadequate data. However, the disease affected over 500 million people around the world which was 27% of the world population then. It also included people living in remote areas like the Pacific Islands and the Arctic.
The death toll of this disease is estimated to be 40 million to 50 million and also as high as 100 million also. The Spanish Flu is often regarded as one of the deadliest disease outbreaks in human history. As an impact of the flu, people born in that generation displayed reduced educational attainment, increased rates of physical disability, lower income, lower socioeconomic status, and higher transfer payments.
6. The Asian Flu Pandemic
Place of Origin: East Asia
Time or Date of Origin: February 1957
Number of People affected: 2 million
The Asian Flu Pandemic of 1957 is also called the Asian flu of 1957. This outbreak was first identified in East Asia in February 1957 and spread globally at a rapid pace. After the Spanish flu, this was the second major influenza pandemic of the 20th century. The main cause of the disease outbreak was a virus named influenza A subtype H2N2 or Asian flu virus that disappeared after 10 years of evolution.
The people affected by this outbreak were prominently small children or aged people over the age of 65. This Asian flu pandemic resulted in around 2 million deaths globally out of which 70000 deaths were found in the United States and an excess 30000 deaths occurred in England and Wales.
7. 2009 Flu Pandemic (Swine Flu)
Place of Origin: United States
Time or Date of Origin: 1998
Number of People affected: 8 billion
The 2009 Flu pandemic is popularly known as Swine Flu. This is second of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus that lasted from early 2009 to late 2010. When a bird, swine, and human flu viruses combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus, this new strain of H1N1 virus was formed causing this outbreak. About 11 to 21% of the then global population (about 6.8 billion) was affected by this disease.
8. HIV AIDS
Place of Origin: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Time or Date of Origin: 1920s
Number of People affected: 32 million
However, the mortality rate, in this case, was very low; hence not a huge amount of people lost their lives. H1N1 did not infect adults older than 60 years disproportionately like most strains of influenza. Compared to other pandemics and epidemics, this disease outbreak was less brutal.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a persistent and potentially life-threatening disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It is an incurable disease originated in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo when HIV crossed species from chimpanzees to humans. The disease is still incurable though some medications are available that can slow the progression of the disease.
HIV is primarily spread through unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic blood needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. From its identification to last year, this disease has caused 32 million deaths. This is one of the scariest disease outbreaks which is still present over a large area and is actively spreading.
9. Western African Ebola Virus Epidemic
Place of Origin: Guinea
Time or Date of Origin: December 2013
Number of People affected: 11310
Western African Ebola Virus Epidemic is one of the most widespread outbreaks of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in history. Originated in Guinea in December 2013, this scariest disease caused a major loss of life and socioeconomic disruption in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone region.
Introduction of Ebola in the human population was through contact with blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, or porcupines found ill or dead in the rainforest. This disease had a high mortality rate as out of 28616 affected people, the death toll was 11310. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine appeared to be effective to counter the disease and has recently got regulatory approval also.
10. Zika Virus Epidemic
Place of Origin: Ziika Forest, Uganda
Time or Date of Origin: 1947
Number of People affected: Nil
A member of the virus family Flaviviridae, Zika virus was first originated in Ziika Forest of Uganda in 1947. Starting in the 1950s across Africa and Asia, the virus was spread eastwards from 2007 to 2016, leading to the 2015-16 Zika virus epidemics. It is primarily spread by female Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is mostly active in the daytime.
It can also spread from a pregnant woman to her baby, resulting in microcephaly, severe birth malformations, and other birth defects. Though there were no reports of death because of this virus, this virus scared a lot of countries and several countries have taken preventive majors against it.
Health is Wealth
Concluding, due to the advances in medical research and technology, the proliferation of Scariest Disease has certainly been reduced. Also, people getting much more aware about health precautions is also reducing the chances of diseases to last longer. However, viruses such as coronavirus are still threatening and they are evident enough to tell that still, more precautions about healthcare are needed. As they say ‘Health is wealth,’ we have to really prioritize it above everything else to see a fitter, healthier, and the happier world in the future.