10 Destructive Epidemics in the History of Human

Deadliest Epidemics

by Shamsul
deadliest epidemics
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10 Deadliest Epidemics in Human History


Our world has faced several epidemics but we are going to discuss the 10 deadliest epidemics in human history. There is no doubt about it that epidemics are one of the major apprehensions for humanity. The definition of an epidemic is an infectious disease that spreads too quickly among humans of a particular inhabitant. If the infectious disease goes to other parts of the world, then it becomes a pandemic. A pandemic can be described as a global, intercontinental, or worldwide epidemic.

The latest example of the pandemic is the ongoing COVID-19. This virus has affected the entire world and spreads very quickly. According to experts and scientists, epidemics, pandemics, and climate change are one of the biggest concerns for humanity. In this post, we will discuss the 10 deadliest epidemics in human history.

Important Note: Each epidemic in this list has claimed more than a million lives.


1)      Black Death Plague

Black Death Plague

The Black Death plague was the Bubonic Plague, caused by the bacteria called Yersinia Pestis. According to a rough estimate, this epidemic caused more than 140 million deaths. The period of this plague was 1346-1353. The black death plague epidemic affected various continents including Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The bacteria mostly spread through rat fleas. The origin of this disease was East Asia or Central Asia.


2)      Spanish Flu

Spanish Flu

The Spanish Flu has claimed around 50 million deaths, but it is just a rough idea. The period of this epidemic was 1918 to 1920. It affected almost every region of the world, including South America, India, China, Africa, Europe, and East Asia. The actual disease was Influenza which is also known as Flu. It was caused by Influenza A H1NI Virus. The infection mostly spreads through the coughing and sneezing of infected people.

According to scientists, this epidemic originated in the USA or China. It happened in World War I and infected many people including American soldiers that took the virus to other parts of the world such as Africa and Europe. Many counties censored the news about the virus just to keep their troops motivated. However, Spain openly talked about the outbreak of this virus, so it was named as the “Spanish Flu”. But, Spain is not the origin of the virus.


3)      AIDS Pandemic

AIDS Pandemic

AIDS caused around 36 million deaths in the world. It is still a big concern in the 21st century. The biggest victim of this pandemic was Sub-Saharan Africa. The full of AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome which is mostly happened through sexual contact with an infected individual. However, it can spread through hypodermic needles, through blood transfusions, and breastfeeding if the woman is infected. The origin of this pandemic was Central Africa, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After this, the virus spread in other parts of the world such as the USA, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS is mainly caused by a virus named HIV.


4)      Plague of Justinian

Plague of Justinian

The Plague of Justinian had taken approximately 30 million lives. It was a bubonic disease which is caused by Yersinia Pestis bacteria. The origin of this plague was East Asia or Central Asia. It was caused by the oriental rat fleas through fleas bites. The bacteria spread throughout the world because of the sailors and tourists. It also affected Justinian I., the emperor of the Byzantine Empire, that’s why it is known as the Plague of Justinian. It was one of the fatal diseases.


5)      Third Plague Pandemic

The period of the Third Plague Pandemic was between 1855 and 1960. It affected various regions of the world such as India and China. The origin of this disease was Central Asia. It was caused by Yersinia Pestis a bacterium that is mostly spread through flea bites. Around 10 million Indians were affected by the plague. It lasted more than a century and was one of the longest epidemics in human history. Its constant outbreaks created several problems for people.


6)      Cocoliztli Epidemic

Cocoliztli Epidemic

Between 1545 and 1548, the Cocoliztli Epidemic took more than 10 million lives. No one knows the origin of this epidemic and its history. According to the latest research, the origin of this disease was a Spanish colony which is now Mexico. There were some common symptoms of this disease such as high fever, dysentery, severe bleeding from the eyes, mouth, and nose, vertigo, and chest pains. It is one of the deadliest diseases in history and remained for three years.


7)      Aztec Smallpox Epidemic

Aztec Smallpox Epidemic

The Aztec Smallpox Epidemic claimed more than 7 million lives. The most affected region was the Aztec Empire, which is modern-day Mexico. The major reason for this disease was Variola Major Virus and Variola Minor Virus. It mostly happened due to face-to-face contact. The era of this disease was 1520 and it ended in 1951. Well, it was a novel disease for people so they didn’t make any immunization against it. It also killed some notorious Aztec leaders. Its constant outbreaks also caused many deaths in different regions. However, the virus was completely eradicated in 1951.


8)      Antonine Plague

  Antonine Plague

The Antonine Plague was another fatal disease that caused more than 5 million deaths worldwide. The mainly affected region by this disease was the Roman Empire. The disease and origin of this virus are still unknown. It could be smallpox or measles. Roman soldiers were the carrier of this disease and brought it to Europe from China. According to an estimate, the disease killed almost 1/3 of the entire population of the city. It lasted for more than 14 years and spread to every part of the world.


9)      Asian Flu

Asian Flu

According to some estimates, the Asian Flu had taken over 3 million deaths between 1956 and 1958. It was caused by the Influenza A H2N2 Virus. It is mostly passed to others by infected people through sneezing and coughing. The actual origin of this disease was China. In a few years, the virus spread to neighboring countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong. It also affected the United States and Europe. It claimed more than 70000 lives in the USA and Europe. In 1957, the development of a vaccine fully eradicated the epidemic.


10)   Persian Plague

Persian Plague

The Persian Plague took approximately 2 million lives between 1772 and 1773. The virus affected the Persian Empire mainly in modern-day India and Pakistan. Just like the above-mentioned plagues, the origin and disease of this virus are the same. However, it began in Baghdad in 1972. The rat fleas infected the Persian Empire and other parts of the world. Moreover, it did not last long but claimed so many lives. It was completely controlled through the strict imposition of quarantine measures in 1773. But, it was eventually one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.


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