- The Black Death is considered to be one of the worst natural disasters in history. In 1347
A.D., the great plague swept over Europe, ravaged cities causing widespread
hysteria and death. One third of the population of Europe died. The Black Death erupted in the Gobi Desert in the late 1320s and the primary carriers transmitting this disease were oriental rat fleas carried on the back of black rats. China's population dropped from
around 125 million to 90 million over the course of the 14th century due to the plague.
- The "Spanish" flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919 caused the
deaths of 20-50 million people worldwide including up to
675,000 in the US. While only about 1% of those infected with
the virus died, it became one of the deadliest viruses ever
known to man. Although called the "Spanish" Flu, this avian virus was thought to have originated in the United States. The 1918 flu has been described as capable of
sickening and killing a person on the same day. The virus is an
H1N1 type A influenza. Symptoms of infection were similar
to, but more severe than typical, seasonal flu.
- When the 1918 Spanish flu disappeared,
no samples of the virus were retained for scientific study. In
1997, however, scientists recovered fragments of the virus's
RNA genome from the preserved remains of infected people.
The genome of the flu virus is composed of 8 RNA segments.
Recently, scientists were able to remake 1918 flu using a technique called reverse genetics
- Plague is an infectious disease of animals and humans caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis. Bubonic plague symptoms include: enlarged, tender lymph nodes, fever, chills and prostration. The mortality rate is 50-90% if untreated.
- Typhus is an infectious disease transmitted by the human body louse. The disease causes fever, prostration, head and body aches, and an extensive rash. Between 1918 and 1922, an epidemic of unprecedented scale engulfed Russia and her provinces. An estimated 25-30% of the population were infected, and some 3 million people died (this number could be more as no accurate
records were kept).
Top 5 facts sources: a. The Black Death 1347-1350, b.CDC Plague Fact Sheet, c. Biological Agent Fact Sheet-191 8 (H1N1) Influenza A