Pandemics that changed history

17. 06. 2021
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As human civilizations grew, these diseases reduced them. In the field of infectious diseases, the worst case scenario is a pandemic. When the epidemic spreads beyond the borders of the state, then the disease officially becomes a pandemic. Communicable diseases have existed since the days of hunters and gatherers, but the transition to agrarian life 10 years ago created communities that provided epidemics with an even more conducive environment. Malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, influenza, smallpox and others first appeared during this period.

The more civilized people became, building cities and trade routes to connect with other cities, and waging wars between them, the more likely pandemics became. Now look at the timeline of the pandemics that have changed history through the devastation of human populations.

Universal History Archive

Overview of pandemics over time

430 BC: Athens

The first recorded pandemic took place during the Peloponnesian War. After passing through Libya, Ethiopia and Egypt, the disease crossed the besieged Athenian walls. At that time, up to two thirds of the population died. Symptoms of the disease included fever, thirst, bleeding throat and tongue, reddened skin and lesions. The disease, most likely typhoid fever, significantly weakened the Athenians and was a decisive factor in their defeat by the Spartans.

165 AD: Antonín plague

The Antonín plague was, in fact, probably one of the first outbreaks of smallpox to spread from the Huns. The Huns infected the Germans, who then infected the Romans, and with returning soldiers, the plague spread throughout the Roman Empire. Symptoms included fever, sore throat, diarrhea, and, if the patient lived long enough, purulent ulcers. This epidemic continued until 180 AD and the emperor Markus Aurelius fell victim to it.

250 AD: Cyprian's plague

It was named after its first known victim, the Christian bishop of Carthage. Cyprian's plague caused diarrhea, vomiting, sore throats, fever, and gangrenous arms and legs. City dwellers fled to the countryside to escape the infection, but instead spread the disease. It probably originated in Ethiopia, passed through North Africa to Rome, then to Egypt and further north.

Over the next three centuries, more outbreaks appeared. In 444 AD, an epidemic hit Britain, making it impossible for the British to defend themselves against the Picts and Scots. She forced them to seek help from the Saxons, who soon took control of the island.

541 AD: Justinian's plague

The Justinian plague, which first appeared in Egypt, spread across Palestine and the Byzantine Empire throughout the Mediterranean. The plague changed the course of the empire, suppressed Emperor Justinian's plans to rebuild the Roman Empire, and caused enormous economic problems. He is also credited with creating an apocalyptic atmosphere, which spurred the rapid spread of Christianity.

The recurrence of plague epidemics over the next two centuries eventually killed about 50 million people, 26 percent of the world's population. This is thought to be the first significant occurrence of the plague, which is characterized by an enlarged lymph gland and is transmitted by rats and spread by fleas.

11th century: Leprosy

Although leprosy has been present for years, in the Middle Ages it grew into a pandemic in Europe, which led to the construction of many hospitals for countless lepers.

The slowly developing bacterial disease, which causes sores and deformities, was considered a family-sentenced punishment. This belief led to moral trials and the ostracization of victims. Today, the disease is known as Hansen's disease, which still affects tens of thousands of people a year and can be fatal if not treated with antibiotics in time.

1350: The Black Death

This second large-scale epidemic of the bubonic plague, responsible for the deaths of one-third of the world's population, probably broke out in Asia and moved further west along caravan routes. The disease spread rapidly throughout Europe after an infected fleet arrived in the Sicilian port of Messina in 1347. There were so many dead bodies that many remained lying on the ground, and there was a pervasive rotting smell in the cities.

England and France were so decimated by the plague that they concluded an armistice. The British feudal system collapsed when the plague completely changed economic and demographic conditions. The Vikings, who ravaged the population in Greenland, lost the power to fight the indigenous peoples, and their exploration of North America came to a halt.

black Death

1492: Columbus Exchange

After the arrival of the Spaniards in the Caribbean, Europeans brought with them diseases such as smallpox, measles or smoke plague, which they transmitted to the original population. These then destroyed indigenous people who had never met them before - up to 90 percent of the original population had died out on the northern and southern continents.

After arriving on the island of Hispaniola, Christopher Columbus met the Taino people, whose population was 60. By 000, the population of the tribe was less than 1548. This scenario was repeated throughout America.

In 1520, a smallpox infection destroyed the entire Aztec empire. The disease killed many of its victims and disabled others. The population was weakened, the country was unable to defend itself against the Spanish colonizers, and farmers did not grow much-needed crops.

A 2019 study even concluded that the deaths of about 56 million Native Americans in the 16th and 17th centuries, largely due to disease, could have changed the Earth's climate. The reason is the fact that the vegetation, grown on previously cultivated land, absorbed more CO2 from the atmosphere, which caused a cooling effect.

1665: The Great Plague of London

In another devastating epidemic, the bubonic plague killed 20 percent of London's population. Once human deaths and mass graves appeared, hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs were killed as a possible cause, and the disease continued to spread along the Thames. In the autumn of 1666, the epidemic weakens, and at about the same time another devastating event occurs - the Great Fire of London.

A graph showing the huge increase in deaths during the Great Plague in London between 1665 and 1666. The solid line shows all deaths and the dashed line of deaths attributed to the plague. Archive Hulton / Getty Images

1817: The first cholera pandemic

This wave of small bowel infection was born in Russia, where about a million people died, becoming the first of seven cholera pandemics in the next 150 years. Spread by water and feces from infected food, the bacteria was transmitted by British troops to India, where millions of people died. From the mighty British Empire, cholera spread through the navy to Spain, Africa, Indonesia, China, Japan, Italy, Germany and America, where 150 people died. A vaccine was developed in 000, but the pandemic continued for several decades.

1855: Third plague pandemic

Another pandemic of the bubonic plague began in China and claimed approximately 15 million lives after being transferred to India and Hong Kong. The plague was originally spread by fleas during a mining boom in Yunnan Province and was considered the cause of several local uprisings. The greatest loss of life was recorded in India, where the epidemic was used as a pretext for repressive policies, which provoked some opposition to British rule. The pandemic was considered active until 1960, when the number of cases fell to a few hundred.

1875: Measles pandemic in Fiji

After Fiji became a British colony, Queen Victoria invited local officials to visit Australia, where a measles epidemic broke out at the time. Visitors dragged the disease back to their island, where it was spread by tribe members and police officers who met them after their return from Australia. The spread was picking up speed, the island was littered with corpses eaten by wild animals. Entire villages were extinct, often burned down, sometimes with the sick trapped in flames. A total of 40 people died - one third of the entire population of Fiji.

1889: Russian flu

The first major influenza pandemic began in Siberia and Kazakhstan, from where it spread to Moscow, then to Finland and Poland, from where it spread to the rest of Europe. The following year, it spread across the sea to North America and Africa. By the end of 1890, 360 people had died.

1918: Spanish flu

The origins of bird flu, which led to more than 50 million deaths worldwide, were first observed in 1918 in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia, from where it spread rapidly throughout the world. At the time, there were no effective vaccine drugs to cure this deadly flu strain. Press releases of the flu outbreak in Madrid in the spring of 1918 gave the pandemic the name "Spanish flu". Hundreds of thousands of Americans died in October, and the bodies were nowhere to be stored. The threat of the disease disappeared in the summer of 1919, when most of those infected gained immunity or died.

Spanish flu

1957: Asian flu

The Asian flu began in Hong Kong and then spread throughout China and then to the United States. The disease also affected England, where 14 people died in six months. At the beginning of 000, a second wave followed, causing approximately 1958 million deaths worldwide. In the United States alone, it claimed 1,1 lives. A vaccine was soon developed to effectively control the pandemic.

1981: HIV / AIDS

AIDS, first identified in 1981, destroys the human immune system, resulting in death from a disease that the body would normally fight. People infected with HIV suffer from fever, headache and enlarged lymph nodes after infection. When the symptoms subside, the infection becomes highly infectious through the blood and sexual fluids. The disease destroys T-cells.

AIDS was initially observed in American gay communities, but is thought to have evolved from the West African chimpanzee virus in the 20s. The disease, which spreads through certain body fluids, spread to Haiti in the 20s and to New York and San Francisco in the 60s. Treatments have been developed that slow the disease, but 70 million people worldwide have died of AIDS since its discovery and a cure has still not been found.


2003: SARS

The disease was first identified in 2003. It is believed that acute respiratory syndrome began in bats, from which it spread to cats and to the human population in China. From there, it spread to 26 other countries, where 8096 people were infected, of whom 774 died.

SARS is characterized by difficulty breathing, dry cough, fever, and head and body pain and is spread by coughing and sneezing through droplets. Quarantine measures proved to be very effective and by July the virus had been eliminated and never reappeared. China was later criticized for trying to suppress information about the virus at the beginning of the outbreak. SARS was globally perceived by healthcare professionals as a warning to improve responses to outbreaks of infectious diseases, and lessons learned from the pandemic were used to keep diseases such as H1N1, Ebola and Zika under control.

2019: COVID- 19

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that the COVID-19 virus had been officially declared a pandemic after infiltrating 114 countries and infecting more than 118 people in three months. And the spread was far from over.

COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus, a new strain of coronavirus that has not been seen in humans. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, fever and cough, which can lead to pneumonia and death. Like SARS, it spreads through droplets. The first recorded case occurred in China's Hubei Province on November 17, 2019, but the virus was not recognized. In December, another eight cases appeared in which scientists pointed to an unknown virus. More people learned about COVID-19 when ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang defied a government decree and provided information to other doctors. The next day, China informed the WHO and charged Li with the crime. Li died of COVID-19 in a little over a month.

Without a vaccine available, the virus has spread across China's borders to almost every country in the world. By December 2020, more than 75 million people had been infected and more than 1,6 million people died worldwide.

This photo, taken on February 17, 2020, shows a man with a laptop who had mild symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19 at an exhibition center converted into a hospital in Wuhan, China's Hubei Province. STR / AFP / Getty Images

(Current information as of 17.06.2021) Members of the US Senate began intensively investigating (06.2021) the theory that the virus was created artificially in laboratories in Wuhan, China. The impetus for this step was leaked emails, which contained extensive communication between Dr. Faucim (something like the Czech Prymula) and representatives of the Wuhan Laboratory. They are asking Fauchi for coverage in the media because the evidence was too clear. In connection with the concealment of the true origin of the virus, the question of the influence of multinational corporations such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other so-called large technology companies) to public opinion. Senators complained that not only ordinary people, but also public officials, including former President Donald Trump, were intimidated, censored or blocked for expressing opposition to the CV. Whether it was its artificial introduction or a real danger to the health of the population not only in the United States but also throughout the Earth.

The theory of escaping from the labs has been on the table for several months. It turns out that Anthony Fauci funded this type of research (Development of the COVID-19 virus) for years. Anthony Fauci has been hiding from the public for months, as he is embarrassed by the media and social networks for doing so. Thanks to his silence, China had 18 months to destroy the evidence and sweep the tracks, so it will be really difficult to get to the very bottom… to the evidence.

Only in spring large technology companies have eased in the sharp censorship of public opinion and gave people space to express their views on the question of the origin of the virus. However, it still remains a mystery who gave them the right to silence their opponents. It is also a mystery why the public has not been informed from the beginning about treatment options with drugs such as ivermectin.

In connection with the censorship, which also fell on us in the Czech Republic, we decided to launch our own project Czech video sharing platforms

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