Pandemics – A Brief History!!


What is a Pandemic? What causes a pandemic disease? What are the measure taken to control and prevent the pandemic?

Pandemic is  a disease epidemic that spreads across a large region such as countries, continents and the entire world.Our human history has witnessed quite some pandemics which have taken away in numerous human lives and livestock.Every pandemic that follows the previous one is getting more deadlier and contagious .It challenges mankind’s advancement in medicine and reminds us how vulnerable we are in the face such situations.Studying about the pandemic,it causes ,effects and control measures has become foremost important activity for the people in medical field as well as people in authority .Mass public also play a very critical role in these juncture .


Let’s see some pandemics that have brought much destruction to mankind.

1. Black death or black plague of 1346-53.

2.The Spanish flu of 1918-20.

3.Six Cholera pandemics of 1800s and 1900s.

4.Asian flu of 1956-58 and Hong Kong flu of 1968.

5.Russian flu  of 1889-90.

6. Corona Virus of 2019 -..

1.Black death or Black Plague of 1300s:

The Black Death was a devastating global epidemic of bubonic plague that struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s. It is recognized as a pandemic that has killed around 75 to 200 million people throughout Europe ,North America and parts of Asia.The spread  of the plague was primarily through the trade routes and highly populated port cities throughout Europe.


Yersinia pestis of bacillus bacteria: This kind of bacteria causes the disease plague, which takes three main forms: pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic. Bubonic plague is a rare but serious bacterial infection that’s transmitted by fleas.

The black plague or Bionic plague has the following characteristics:

The Yersinia pestis bacteria  has been found as the cause for bubonic plague. It can spread through contact with infected fleas.

Extremely rare

Fewer than 5 thousand cases per year (India)

Treatable by a medical professional

Spreads by animals or insects

Requires a medical diagnosis

Lab tests or imaging always required

Short-term: resolves within days to weeks

Critical: needs emergency care


By animal or insect bites or stings.


Treatment consists of antibiotics

Bubonic plague requires urgent hospital treatment with strong antibiotics. Several classes of antibiotics are effective in treating bubonic plague. These include aminoglycosides such as streptomycin and gentamicin, tetracyclines (especially doxycycline), and the fluoroquinolone ciprofloxacin.

The plague has occurred every consecutive century to take more lives beside the best effort put forward by different governments. The plague of 1600s and 1700s has killed around 36 million and the plague of 1855 has killed around 120 million people. The disease may not have killed these many people if not for the people’s superstitious and unhygienic conditions in which they were treated.

Spanish Flu

2.Spanish flu of 1918:

       Influenza virus:

A common viral infection caused by the influenza virus which can be deadly, especially in high-risk groups.The flu attacks the lungs, nose and throat. People with weak immune system, chronic disease, young children, senior citizens, pregnant women are at high risk.

The primary reason for the spread of the Spanish flu was because of the unhygienic condition of the hospitals where wounded soldier of World War being treated. The hospital also served as storehouse for foods and livestock which further spread the disease to front lines of the battlefield.The flu which started in the year 1918 continued till 1920 ,when the spread was finally controlled by the public intervention measures such as social distancing and isolation of infected people.

The influenza or Flu disease has the following characteristics

Spreads easily

Partly preventable by vaccine

Usually self-treatable

Usually self-diagnosable

Lab tests or imaging rarely required

Short-term: resolves within days to weeks

In the case of Spanish flu pandemic ,it took around 3 years for the world to come normal condition.


 By airborne respiratory droplets (coughs or sneezes).

 By touching a contaminated surface (blanket or doorknob).

 By saliva (kissing or shared drinks).

By skin-to-skin contact (handshakes or hugs).


Usually self-diagnosable

Some of the symptoms are fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches and fatigue.


Treatment consists of fluids and activity modifications

For Flu, the primarily treatment is rest and fluid intake to allow the body to fight the infection. Paracetamol may help cure the symptoms but NSAIDs should be avoided at any cost. Annual intake of vaccination helps to prevent the flu.

To Be continued….

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