Pandemics of Modern Times
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modern pandemics

While we’re in the midst of a corona virus pandemic, it may be helpful to know we’ve survived a number of them. For example, there were three known pandemics of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium behind plague.

In one outbreak during the middle ages, a third of Europeans died. At the start of the twentieth century, a cholera pandemic killed hundreds of thousands in the Middle East, North Africa, and Russia. Then in World War One, the Spanish Flu arrived and killed fifty million people.

There were three other major flu pandemics this past century which I actually remember. One was the Asian flu outbreak in the nineteen fifties and the second began in Hong Kong and killed one million people. Then in two thousand nine was when H-one-N-one or swine flu began in Mexico and killed more than twelve thousand people in the US.

And we can’t forget the HIV pandemic which began in nineteen-eighty-one and has killed thirty-five million people. The two thousands had SARS and MERS – two viruses related to the now circulating SARS-CoV-2. Then the Ebola outbreak showed up for the first time in the US and one year later, the Zika virus spread from Central and South America to the US. Now COVID-nineteen is spreading and killing people around the world. Infectious disease is always here around us.

It’s possible more than one hundred thousand viruses could someday make the jump from animals to humans. We have our work cut out for us – research is our best hope.

For more information…

Major Epidemics of the Modern Era
For more than a century, countries have wrestled with how to improve international cooperation in the face of major outbreaks of infectious diseases. A pandemic of a new coronavirus that originated in China in 2019 underscores the urgency...