History’s 7 worst Epidemics and Pandemics of the World

There are many controversies over the definitions of the word ‘ Pandemic ‘. But no doubt, when  a disease turns into an epidemic form the human race of the world pays a great toll. The disease crosses the international boundaries killing lots of people without any concern of their races, religions, colours, financial conditions, or any other social milieu. This world has been a witness of devastating deaths of human lives across the world for epidemic diseases over the centuries. Here is a list 7 epidemics and pandemics of the history of the world before 2020.

Diseases like plague, flu, cholera, influenza etc. spreading through the national and international boundaries, snatching many human lives, turned into pandemic and became a part of history of the world.


The Black Death or the Pestilence or The Black Plague caused by a single bacterium, Yersinia pestis hit the European and Asian countries killing 75 to 200 million people from 1347 to 1351. To stop the spreading of the disease the official decided to isolate the persons who were coming from outside the country. The word ‘quarantine’ comes from this incident. In 14th – 15th Venetian language ‘quarantena’ meant ‘forty days’ to isolate the ships coming from out of the country. Though they were first isolated ‘trentino’ or  for thirty days.

Result : The pandemic may have reduced the population of the world from 475 million  to 350-375 million in the 14th century which is really beyond our imagination.

Victims were dying after two to seven days of initial infection of the disease. The appearance of buboes in the groin, armpit, neck oozing pus and blood was the common symptom. Then vomiting with acute fever worsened the victims.

THE GREAT PLAGUE : (1665-1666)

Though the game of death due to plague continued especially in European countries just with a gap of one or two years. But the great toll  human beings paid due to this disease was the Great Plague of London. Deaths of 100000 people in just 18 months in London were recorded. That was the quarter of the population of London of the then period.

CHOLERA: (1817-1824)

In 1817 the first cholera pandemic was reported occurring from Bengal region near Calcutta (now Kolkata) in India. The disease spread into most of the countries of the world like Southeast Asia, Middle East, Europe, Eastern Africa by 1820. This pandemic disease killed tens of million people. Between 1817 and 1860 in the first three cholera pandemic over 15 million people died only in India. Though cholera has occurred in seven pandemic phases in different parts of the world. It continued to haunt throughout the countries till the end of the 1970s.


This plague became pandemic in China in 1855 spread to India where 10 million died. And nearly 23 million people died in the next three cholera pandemic in India. Death of 2 million people was reported in Russian in the then period.

SPANISH FLU : (1918-1920)

Causing high mortality rate for young adults the Spanish Flu becoming a pandemic killed 50 to 100 million people around the world.it infected nearly 500 million people. This Spanish flu killed people in just 25 days of its attack. It is said that the flu killed more people than the World War did. And this war may be the cause of this pandemic. 

SMALLPOX : (18th -20th Century)

Virola virus is the cause of this pandemic smallpox. It is a contagious disease. 400000 people/ year died from the disease at the end of the 18th century. During the 20th century 300-500 millions deaths were reported due to the disease. 

HIV/AIDS : (1966-1972) (2005-2012)

HIV/AIDS originated from Africa between 1966 and 1972. Though it showed its extreme fierce face in between the year of 2005 and 2012. And since 1981, killing 36 million people around the world, the disease had proved itself that it was a global pandemic. Proper  sex education and awareness among the people decreased the number of new victims. 


Besides many disease like Asian flu (1957-1958), the Hong-Kong flu (1968-1969), Swine flu (2009-2010), Measles, Tuberculosis, Leprosy snatched millions of human lives around the world, and they proved themselves as global pandemic.

About JM

Hi, I am an English Educator, guiding & teaching students for 15 years. I love to learn & teach. Just it. Thanks to you.

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