5 Deadliest Epidemics and Pandemics of All Time

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5 Deadliest Epidemics and Pandemics of All Time

1. Plague of Justinian

The first ever recorded epidemic was the ‘Plague of Justinian’ named after the 6th century Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It began in 541 AD and was followed by several outbreaks in the 200 years that followed.

National Geographic described this as “a bubonic plague outbreak spread throughout the Byzantine Empire, centred on the Mediterranean region. It halted the reconquest of lands once part of the Roman Empire. Estimates vary widely for the plague’s death toll. The CDC estimates that it ‘eventually killed over 100 million people’.”

2. Black Death

After the Plague of Justinian was the ‘Black Death‘ of the 14th It was said that merchants and soldiers were the carriers of the disease, although this was never proven. One fourth of Europe’s population was affected by the outbreak that would be equal to about 25 million people.

The Black Death came in three types: bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic.



HIV AIDS is a pandemic that we are still struggling to kill. The medical industry can only do much to lessen its effects and the battle against HIV is still seen to be a long struggle. HIV was first reported as a disease in 1981 and as of 2010, infected 60 million people, 25 million of which was recorded dead.

Today, HIV/AIDS has spread across countries. This pandemic can be transmitted through sexual intercourse or sharing needles and syringes with a person who has HIV, and/or being born to an infected mother.

4. Cholera

Started in India in the 1800s, Cholera, as defined by the World Health Organization, is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.

The pandemic’s seventh outbreak started in Indonesia in 1961 and is still ongoing.

Influenza - Deadliest Epidemics and Pandemics5. Influenza

The Influenza pandemic has gone on and off and is foreseen to likely occur again. In 1918, the Spanish flu was one of the most deadly outbreaks with an average death toll of 35 million people worldwide.

Kansas was where the first US case of influenza recorded in 1918 and spread quickly as soldier quarter troops during the World War 1 were closely located.

The number of people dying from epidemics and pandemics depend on the number of people who become infected, on how critical the disease is on the person affected, how vulnerable is the population affected and its preventive measures, that is if this certain population have prepared for a certain outbreak.

It may be a little bit scary to have to read about them, but knowing the deadliest epidemics and pandemics to have stricken mankind is crucial. Amid the human’s physical suffering from the disease, what we should look out for is an outbreak’s impact on the social and economic aspects of a population or a person. It raises needs for finance and time, disrupts work, energy, productivity, opportunities, fun and life.


What other deadly pandemics and endemics do you know of?

About Author

Jody Allen

Jody is the founder and essence of Stay at Home Mum. An insatiable appetite for reading from a very young age had Jody harbouring dreams of being a pu...Read Moreblished author since primary school. That deep-seeded need to write found its way to the public eye in 2011 with the launch of SAHM. Fast forward 4 years and a few thousand articles Jody has fulfilled her dream of being published in print. With the 2014 launch of Once a Month Cooking and 2015's Live Well on Less, thanks to Penguin Random House, Jody shows no signs of slowing down. The master of true native content, Jody lives and experiences first hand every word of advertorial she pens. Mum to two magnificent boys and wife to her beloved Brendan; Jody's voice is a sure fire winner when you need to talk to Mums. Read Less

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