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Pandemics Throughout History by Bora Baykal

Updated: May 18

Hi everyone, I hope you all are healthy and safe. Due to the rough times we are having during the coronavirus pandemic, I decided to research about the most known and powerful outbreaks throughout history.


First of all, I would like to let you know what pandemic is. Diseases that spread through a country’s borders is called a pandemic. Since COVID-19 has been all over the world and currently there are 3.5 million people infected, it might be considered as one of the most critical outbreaks. We can argue with whether the world was fully ready for health care, taking up to things online (we stay at home but still we have to work and do our jobs), of finding the cure of this pandemic or not. However, there were also some pandemics, as important as this one, which have broken out the times when the technology and the medical equipment were not adequate to manage these pandemics. I have listed some major pandemics below that changed history.


  • THE BLACK DEATH (1342-1353)

The black death is, probably, one of the most known diseases that occurred between 1342 and 1353. 11 years is a considerably long time. At that time, ⅓ of people died because of the black death. At that time ⅓ equals approximately 200 million. The plague came from China and spread through Asia and Europe. The scientists detected that the plague was spreading through the air and the infected bucks. Since in the mid-1300s, technology and health care were not adequate, many philosophers and people believed that it was “God’s Punishment”. In fact, the plague was so affected that some doctors refused to take care of patients. The Black death also brought along some political changes at that time. The Vikings lose their power and their authority on Scandinavia weakened. The plague didn’t end at that time and as I will mention later on it returned a couple of centuries later. However, officially, the plague was under control in a city called Ragusa after a while. They tried to isolate people as we are doing today and the quarantine was successful at some point. The term “quarantine” was coming from that occurrence too.


  • The Columbian Exchange (1492)

When Colombus and many travelers discovered America and many places throughout the Atlantic Ocean, they brought along their culture, belongings as well as plants, animals, and diseases. We can also interpret that from the dates. Colombus discovered the land in 1492 as the same year the disease showed up. That caused people to suffer from these illnesses. It was stated that 90 percent of people died in both south and north continents. Even the Aztec Empire was collapsed due to the smallpox spread. Moreover, politically, since it weakened the local community, it made Spanish colonizer’s job easier to colonize those areas.


  • Fiji Measles Pandemic (1875)

Measles was under control a long time ago when the Fiji Measles Pandemic showed up. However, a celebration made the measles spread again in Fiji Island and caused the death of 40.000. The corpses were all around and some villages were burned down.


  • Spanish Flu (1918)

Europe and the United States were the first places that the Spanish Flu showed up. However, in the very first times, it wasn’t called the Spanish Flu. After the number of people infected in Madrid increased, people named it as Spanish Flu. Although it is just one century ago, there were no drugs and medical equipment preventing that disease. When the Spanish flu ended, 50 million people died.

  • Sars (2003)

It is declared that the illness started with bats to other animals and then to humans. However, Sars hasn’t effected all the countries but just 26 of them and 774 people died because of it. Like the coronavirus, Sars has some similar symptoms like respiratory problems, dry cough, fever, and several aches. It was understood by professors as a warning to people to be ready for the other viruses.


  • COVID-19 (2019-nCoV)

The first case was in China on 27 November 2019. Since this virus wasn’t known before, the first cases were treated as normal flu. However, currently, it spread almost all the countries, there are 3.8 million people infected, and 260 million died. Unfortunately, still, the virus’s biological structure and its treatment haven’t been fully identified yet.



As the scientists predicted in 2003 during Sars’s spread, we should have been ready for the upcoming outbreaks like that. Although every person is trying the best they can, we weren’t ready enough to fight with this virus. However, it is still arguable whether the quarantine process or prohibitions are effective or not. We are unlucky to witness to the COVID-19. However, hopefully, if we survive out of this situation, we will be experienced to world’s one of the most dangerous pandemics. By telling what we have been going through these days to the younger ones, later on, they will be adequate and aware of the next ones. I hope you I acknowledged about this topic. You can always subscribe below and get the latest news. Stay tuned for more.




References

- https://www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/pandemics-timeline



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