10 Pandemics in History That Brought Drastic Social & Economic Changes Globally

You would be shocked to read about these worst pandemics in history. These pandemics had an inevitable impact on the world.

4 years ago
10 Pandemics in History That Brought Drastic Social & Economic Changes Globally

It's been a month that everyone is sitting at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Though doctors are finding a way to cure this disease, they are recommending staying home and not going to crowded places as the best solution to prevent Coronavirus. It is not the only pandemic that killed thousands of people and has affected the human lifestyle. 

History has recorded several pandemics that sickened millions of people around the globe. Let us read about the worst pandemics in history that ended up killing millions of people. 

1. Flu Pandemic or Spanish Flu

Source = Britannica

Flu pandemic or Spanish Flu was caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. It lasted for over a year from 1918 to 1919 and affected 500 million people worldwide. This Spanish Flu had killed more people in 24 weeks than HIV/AIDS killed in 24 years. 

It was caused by a virus that got transmitted from person to person through respiratory secretions. The Flu pandemic occurred in three waves. The first appeared during World War I

During this time, it spread through Western Europe and then to Poland. The third wave occurred in the winter and lasted till spring. It affected people who are 20-40 years old.

2. Plague of Athens: 430 B.C.

Source = Alchetron

The Plague of Athens devastated the city-state of Athens during the second year of the Peloponnesian War. It killed over 100,000 people. It is believed that the Plague of Athens was similar to typhoid and smallpox. 

The Greek historian Thucydides (460-400 B.C.) wrote that "people in good health were all of a sudden attacked by violent heats in the head, and redness and inflammation in the eyes, the inward parts, such as the throat or tongue, becoming bloody and emitting an unnatural and fetid breath" (translation by Richard Crawley from the book 'The History of the Peloponnesian War,' London Dent, 1914). Despite the epidemic, the war didn’t end and continued till 404 BC. 

3. Plague of Justinian

Source = Listverse

The Plague of Justinian affected the Eastern Empire and mainly Constantinople and the entire Mediterranean Sea. It was believed that the Plague of Justinian was the deadliest pandemics in history and killed around 50-100 million people around the world. 

In 2013, the researchers confirmed that the cause of this deadly plague was Yersinia pestis. It was the same bacteria that was responsible for Black Death. According to sources, the outbreak was carried by infected rats that arrived on grain ships that came from Egypt. 

The number of deaths due to the Plague of Justinian is uncertain, but it is believed that it killed over 5000 people per day in Constantinople.

4. Influenza Pandemic or Asian Flu

Source = Cdc

It was a global pandemic of influenza A virus subtype H2N2 and killed over 1 million worldwide. A virus subtype H2N2 was the recombination of the human influenza virus and avian influenza. 

It was first identified in East Asia in 1957 and then spread to other countries. It was the second-worst pandemic in the 20th century after the influenza pandemic in 1918-1919. 

The individuals who got infected through this virus showed symptoms of fever and major complications like pneumonia. The vaccine was made to treat H2N2, and then it limited the spread. It has a low mortality rate but resulted in the deaths of millions of people. 

5. Antonine Plague

Source = Miro.medium

The Antonine Plague, or also called the Plague of Galen, has claimed the life of Lucius Verus (co-emperor of Rome). It was first identified during the siege of Seleucia, and then it spread in the Roman army camp. 

The army came into contact with merchants and locals there and fueled its spread. The plague killed a quarter of the individuals affected. It is believed that Antonie Plague killed nearly 2000 people per day and estimated to kill 5 million people. 

Common symptoms associated with Antonine Plague were vomiting, fever, coughing, and inflammation. This might not be the majorly known Plague in Europe, but it was very close to crumbling the entire empire. 

6. Great Plague of London: 1665-1666

Source = Devastatingdisasters

The Great Plague of London lasted from 1655 to 1666 and killed over 100,000 people. It was caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium and was transmitted through the infected rat. The plague affected the poor, as the rich people left the city by retiring to their country estates. 

It majorly affected London but spread in other cities as well. The village of Eyam in Derbyshire was affected when the merchant brought a parcel of cloth sent from London. People there quarantined themselves to stop the spread of the disease. By the time the plague ended, it had killed 15% of the London population. 

7. Third Cholera Pandemic

Source = History

The third cholera pandemic was the worst pandemic that occurred in India that lasted until 1863. It had the highest fatalities in Europe, Asia, and North America. It spread from the Ganges River and then entered other areas. 

John Snow, a popular British physician, worked on the cases of Cholera and then identified the cause of the disease. He identified that contaminated water was the reason for the transmission of this disease.  

A combination of sanitation and hygiene and oral cholera vaccines were used to cure this disease. In 1854, over 23,000 people died in Britain alone due to cholera. After the pump handle was removed, the cases for cholera immediately declined. 

8. Plague of Cyprian

Source = Energyskeptic

The Plague of Cyprian is another worst pandemic in history that affected the Roman Empire from AD249 to 262. It first occurred in Ethiopia around the Easter of 250CE. It killed nearly 5000 people every day. 

Symptoms experienced by the sufferers include blindness, swollen throats, paralysis, and blood-filled in the eyes. Based on the survey, it was found that the disease could be transmitted by direct or indirect contact. 

The plague was named after the first known victim, the Christian bishop of Carthage. The locals fled to the country to prevent themselves from infection, but they spread the disease more. It started in Ethiopia and then spread through Egypt and northward. 

9. The Black Death

Source = Theconversation

The Black Death that affected Europe from 1348 to 1351 infected 200 millions of people worldwide. Several theories were published revealing the cause of the Black Death, but the popular opinion was that this deadly disease was caused by pockets of bad air. Some believed that Jewish people were responsible for black death. It was estimated that this disease wiped out nearly over half of Europe’s population. 

It is thought to have originated in Asia and then spread to other continents. The plague ended through the implementation of quarantine. The unaffected people would remain in their homes and go out in emergency cases. It was the second plague pandemic recorded after the Plague of Justinian. 

The Black Death devastated social, economic, and religious factors and affected European history. Symptoms of the disease include nausea and vomiting, headache, and pain in joints. Most victims died within a week after infection. Transmission occurs through fleas that consume infected animals and particularly wild rodents. 

10. H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic

Source = Britannica

It was caused by H1N1 that originated in Mexico and then spread to the entire world. It infected over a million people in the world and killed over 575,000 people. It majorly affected children and adults. It lasted for nearly 19 months. 

The symptoms observed in people who were infected through this virus include fever, cold and cough, fatigue, runny nose, and joint pain. Pregnant women and people having diabetes and weakened immune systems were at more risk. The spread of the virus was thought to occur the same way that seasonal flu spreads.

It got transmitted from person to person through sneezing or contacting people with influenza. Not only it affected people, but animals like cats, dogs, and turkeys were infected through this virus. Initially, the vaccines created were not majorly available to people, so, the CDC recommended to provide medicines to pregnant women and babies who were under six months old. 

Final Words

Any pandemic, when it occurs, changes the country’s economy and adversely affects people. Also, after the Coronavirus pandemic has affected the world, people have become aware of the practices like social distancing and sanitizing their hands to prevent themselves from the virus. 

Here are other lethal diseases that changed the entire world. Do you know other pandemics that have affected millions around the world? 


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