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History's 13 Worst Pandemics

Adam Starr | NursingLink

July 23, 2009

History's 13 Worst Pandemics


Remember a few months ago when A/H1N1, i.e. “swine flu,” was going to wipe out all of humanity? Do you recall how every single time you turned on the T.V., a talking head would chatter nervously about how “Hamthrax” and “Snoutbreak” was about to really cook everyone’s bacon?

Fortunately, swine flu has largely oinked-out with nowhere near the destructiveness of its earliest prognosis. As far as outbreaks go, it was small and mostly non-lethal, but swine flu did have the potential to do significant damage, to become something bigger, to evolve into a pandemic. NursingLink decided to look into our pandemic past to discover clues to our most recent pig-plague scare.

So, what is a pandemic anyway? Pandemic is a Greek word (pan: all, demos: people) that means, “Widespread or general,” it describes an “epidemic that spreads over a large geographic area infecting a sizeable proportion of the population.” The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes a pandemic after these three conditions:

• Disease is infectious to humans
• Disease emerges that is new to a population
• Disease spreads quickly and sustainably between people

There have been victims of disease since the very beginning of human history; death was a natural and often early part of our ancestral past. If unwelcome, death was at least typical. But occasionally these diseases were so virulent and powerful that they threatened to eliminate entire peoples. These outbreaks were anything but typical. From the Bubonic Plague to HIV, mankind has struggled to understand, control, and eradicate these mass deaths. Where we have failed and they have won, we’ve witnessed a pandemic. NursingLink have compiled a list of history’s 13 worst pandemics to keep you healthily educated on our past. Read on, stay hygienic, and whatever you do—avoid these next 13 killers like the plague.


Next: Diagnose the List >>


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    drw843

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    4th line should read -- respiratory tract infection not track!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    newellgarcia

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    People get rose colored "sores". Birds "soar" in the sky. It is disappointing that RN's make such grammatical spelling errors. There are a few other such errors in these articles

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    silentfire66

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I THOUROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE! KEEP 'EM COMING

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    carlasangelsunawares

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    GREAT ARTICLES!!! NURSING MUST STAY ON THE CUTTING EDGE!!!

    CARLA THOMAS

  • 017_max50

    joyrider

    over 5 years ago

    52 comments

    Good article.

  • Dsc09353_max50

    metot

    over 5 years ago

    2308 comments

    Have to take care of ourselves:)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Emmatol

    over 5 years ago

    186 comments

    well founded truth. I's good to go down the memory lane.

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