Top 10 Worst Pandemics in the World’s History

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Coronavirus has recently been one of the top trending news of the world. It is on the verge of being called a pandemic if not controlled. Although coronavirus remains a deadly threat to human existence on this planet, it is not the first danger that we have encountered in our history.

Our past is full of lethal diseases and plagues that took millions of lives, but humankind survived luckily. Thanks to medical sciences, we have a lot of capable vaccinations and medicines that help in vanishing flu or virus.

We have numerous recent examples of life-threatening viruses that we’ve been dealing with, including the Ebola virus, Swine flu, SARS, and Dengue virus. But they seem much minor than what we faced in the past. Considering the resources we had a few hundred years ago, the diseases could be more lethal than they are currently.

10 Worst Pandemics of the World

Here we’ve compiled a list of 10 Worst pandemics in the history that changed the world into a completely new shape. Let’s dive deep into each of them to know what impact they made on the world’s population.

10. Plague of Athens

We would have to travel in the BC era when this deadly outbreak began, and people had no idea of how to deal with the disease at that time. The outbreak happened in Athens, Greece. When it went out of control, the town was kept under siege. It continued to infect for about 3 years, and 75,000 to 100,000 people were affected by it. Athens lost its one-fourth population because of this deadly plague. 

Athenians were so horrified by this disease that they hired a famous historian, “Thucydides,” for documenting the disease symptoms of the illness so that the next generations could take benefit from the information. Although we know the signs of Athens Plague, it is still unknown what kind of disease it was and what caused the outbreak because of unclear forensic data.

9. Camp Fever

Camp Fever is another name of the same virus called jail fever or war fever. We know it with its scientific name called “hyphus.” The primary cause of its outbreak was unclean living conditions of crowded areas. People weren’t cautious and didn’t know until the time when it went out of control that this disease was transmitted through body lice.

Camp Fever raised its head from time to time throughout our history; it spread wildly in the military camps of Napoleonic wars, World War One and Two. Millions of people got departed from this world due to this destructive disease. However, it is not very common because the hygiene standards are much better, and medicines are accessible to everyone.

8. Smallpox

Smallpox remains a sign of terror for the Europeans for thousands of years. It is one of the recent plagues that was proven worst and violent. The first outbreak of Smallpox happened in 1633 in Europe, and it caused great fear among the masses of Europe.

In the 1790s, the disease went viral in the US when the Native Americans contracted to it by person to person transmission. The Native Americans’ susceptible immune system was the primary cause of widespread transmission and lethality. But now the people of the US and Europe are entirely safe from Smallpox as it is said to be wholly eradicated, which is indeed a big achievement to celebrate. 

7. Asian Flu

In 1957, H2N2 avian influenza hit Asia with its full intensity that it had to be called a pandemic. The flu’s origin was China. The researchers developed a vaccine for the disease much quickly (in about a year), but still, it was quite late as the flue had already taken one to four million lives in Asia.

The terrifying thing about this flu was its quiet start. The children were more susceptible to the disease as the school year began; the disease spread vigorously among their classmates who later infected their families and friends. As the medical field advanced, the doctors were capable of diagnosing the disease in children, young teens, and then in pregnant women. It had a dominant second wave, which caused the major portion of fatalities, but thankfully, it got controlled.

6. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, often called “TB,” is a dreadful disease for many years and is still actively taking lives every 25 seconds. The fatality rate of it is so high that almost 1.3 million people die because of it every year, and it keeps getting out of control.

The people still need awareness about it; the significant target of this disease is our lungs and respiratory system. It destroys our respiration mechanism by hurting our body tissues. The transmission of Tuberculosis is easy and quick through the air when someone sneezes, coughs or even talks

Although a big part of medical research is ongoing for its eradication, it is quite lethal in underdeveloped areas of the world where it destroys the population in the presence of HIV/AIDS. The most prominent symptom of it is uncontrollable coughing accompanied by blood. 

5. The Plague of Justinian

The name of the disease is given after the emperor’s name, “Justinian,” who was from the Byzantine Empire. He was a very ambitious man who wanted to change the civil and military infrastructure of his city. But little did he know, an outbreak happened of a deadly plague which caused uncountable deaths. The disease was so lethal that once infected; the patient couldn’t survive for more than 5 days.

The people that got infected in the first place were the workers and farmers who worked on agriculture. Hence, another big problem arose after the disease as a long famine continued to threaten the people of the locality.

4. The Antonine Plague

Antonine Plague is another fatal disease in our list of worst pandemics in the world’s history. It was one of the primary reasons due to which the Roman Empire had to fall. It went viral in 165 AD when Marcus Aurelius was reigning (You must watch “Gladiators” if you haven’t). The plague was responsible for the economic decline and widespread government officials’ deaths

The epidemic had a major impact on the religious beliefs of the people of Rome, and a lot of people were converted to Christianity and Mithraism. There was no power left to the Roman Empire because of this uncontrollable plague in the 5th Century. It is said to be a strain of Smallpox, but all of these are rumors that are considered baseless and not yet confirmed.


HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed in June 1981, and some of the diagnosed homosexual men were dead by the end of the year. Researchers kept their study continued to know what kind of disease it was. The symptoms included respiratory problems and cancer. In 1982, it was named as AIDS when the infant was found to have the same illness as their parent.

A massive outbreak happened in 1983 in Central Africa, and after that, the researchers came to know that this disease highly sexually transmittable disease. The most frightening thing about AIDS is that there is no cure available to date, and it is the disease that caused the most recent number of deaths followed by Tuberculosis.

In HIV/AIDS, the human immune system undergoes progressive failure, making the body vulnerable to more diseases. The general symptoms may include weight loss, fatigue, or forgetfulness.

2. The Spanish Flu

Spanish Flu is locally known as “la grippe,” The severity of the flu was so significant that it killed more people than World War One. It remains one of the worst incidents that ever happened in Spanish history. It is thought to be a strain of Influenza, mostly targeting the people who were 20 to 40 years old.

At its peak, almost 28% of the American population got infected, and 675,000 people lost their precious lives.

1. The Black Death

At last, we are going to talk about the biggest catastrophe in humans’ history ever. Black Death was the cause of millions of deaths and infections. The real number is still unknown, but Black Death is for sure the worst pandemic in the humans’ history.

Its outbreak began in the 1330s when the bubonic plague was found in China. As China is one of the biggest trading hubs of the world, it became the epicenter of the outbreak. The disease quickly spread to Europe because of its high transmissibility. The major carriers of this plague were rodents and flea bites.

Europe had no idea what they were going to face in the near future.  The Black Death was present in almost every country of Europe by 1348, and it wiped out whole towns, villages, and regions. The disease arose every time when the fleas came in the spring season.

The Black Death was responsible for more than 25 million deaths (one-third of the European population), and it remained the symbol of death for more than five years in Europe.


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