8 major pandemics that put humanity at risk

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared coronavirus as a global pandemic. The term is applied to epidemic diseases that spread throughout the world, with the potential to cause serious damage to human societies.

Instead, the terms "outbreak" and "epidemic" are used to refer to less massive spread of a disease, for example, located in a region of a country or some countries on a continent.

Let's review others eight great pandemics that have pushed humanity and science to the limit.

1. smallpox

The deadliest pandemic of all, with a long history spanning centuries and evidence of multiple outbreaks and epidemics in different human cultures.

The earliest known record was found on an Egyptian mummy from the 3rd century BC. Smallpox is estimated to have killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century and around 500 million people in the last 100 years of its existence.

It was declared globally eradicated in 1980 by the WHO.

2. Measles

The second deadliest of all. It has caused approximately 200 million deaths worldwide. It is highly contagious and there is no specific treatment to combat it.

Vaccination has greatly reduced its spread, and there are currently approximately 20 million cases a year, most of it in children in developing countries in Asia and Africa.

3. Bubonic plague

The third deadliest pandemic in history. It was the cause of the black plague or black death, which killed approximately 50 million people in Africa, Asia and Europe during the fourteenth century.

It was active until 1959, although its intensity decreased as the treatments progressed.

4. Typhus

Described for over 500 years, typhus is an infectious disease caused by a bacterial infection.

Various typhus epidemics have been recorded over the past centuries, but the most intense occurred in the early 20th century, with tens of millions of confirmed cases in Russia and Poland, mainly.

During the civil war between 1917 and 1922, typhus killed approximately 3 millions of people.


Cholera is a disease caused by an infection in the small intestine. Since it began to spread massively in the 19th century, it is estimated that has killed tens of millions of people in 7 different pandemics.

Currently there are up to 5 million cases a year causing 30,000 deaths annually.

6. Spanish flu

The 1918-1919 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu, is considered the deadliest individual pandemic in human history, causing the death of between 40 and 100 million people.

7. Asian flu (H2N2)

Influenza A virus subtype H2N2 or Asian influenza is a variation of influenza that between 1957 and 1958 appeared in Singapore and spread to America and Europe, causing a total of 1.1 million dead.

8. Hong Kong Flu (H3N2)

Influenza A subtype H2N3 is another variety of influenza that can affect mammals and birds. It started in Hong Kong, where it infected approximately 15% of the population, and caused between 1 and 4 million deaths worldwide between 1968 and 1969. It had a relatively low mortality rate of 0.5%.

The last time the WHO declared a pandemic was in 2009, because of the H1N1 flu that killed hundreds of thousands worldwide.

Learn about ways to stay safe from the coronavirus, and follow the instructions in case you get it.

The vast majority of cases are mild and overcome without medication, but be cautious and follow the instructions of the specialists.

Let's take care of each other!