Over the years of history, the world has endured its share of historical disease and illness outbreaks. This number has significantly decreased due to the vast amount of technology in medicine and disinfectants. However, there are still times where even medicine can’t prevent us from the inevitable. Do you know about some of the largest disease and illness outbreaks that have left the healthcare industry in turmoil? Let’s take a blast through the past and go over some of the largest outbreaks in world history.
1.) 1918: Spanish Flu Pandemic
The year was 1918, and waves of mutating influenza viruses swept through the military lines of armies fighting in World War I to the civilian population across the globe. This was commonly referred to as “the Spanish Flu”; however, Spain was no more affected than any other European country, nor was it the source of the disease.
This flu outbreak was the cause of orphaned children, closed schools and businesses, and left the nation without important services due to ill workers. An estimated 675,000 Americans died in a matter of months. It is estimated that 20 million people died across the globe before the pandemic subsided (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
2.) The Great White Plague (TB or Tuberculosis)
Cases of Tuberculosis can be traced back to ancient Egypt. There is DNA evidence that proves its presence in Egyptian mummies. During the 1600′s, the disease plagued the population of Europe for over 200 years. Known as the Great White Plague, it killed roughly one out of every seven people it infected.
Tuberculosis continued to be a problem during the late 19th century, with estimates that 10 percent of all deaths in the United States. In 1944, doctors discovered a preventative aid, known as antibiotic Streptomycin. Technology in modern medicine has continued to provide preventable measures against TB.
3.) 1952: Polio Epidemic
Polio is a viral disease that affects the nervous system. The first major polio epidemic in the United States occurred in 1916. In the 1940s and 50s, Polio outbreaks created a frenzy, frightening parents and prohibiting travel from city to city within the United States. Some towns were quarantined to protect the public from affected individuals.
In 1952, over 58,000 cases were reported, including 3,145 deaths (Salk Institute, 2012). However, an effective vaccine has made the United State polio-free since 1979.
4.)1980s to Present: AIDS
The first documented case was reported in 1981. Now known as HIV, it began to appear as a rare lung infection characterized by a weakened immune system. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV. AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States among people age 25 to 44 (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012).
The virus that causes AIDS is passed through blood transfusions or use of needles, sexual contact or from a pregnant woman to her child.
5.) Noro Virus
The Noro Virus, often affiliated with international cruises in the recent months, is a virus that is transmitted by an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching a contaminated surface. The first case of the new strand of this virus occurred in 2012. Many affiliate the Noro Virus as being an illness that is picked up from international countries, however, the United States is currently the leading cause of virus outbreaks. The symptoms are comparable to a bad stomach flu.
Unfortunately, there may not be a way to completely avoid a pandemic, but there are ways to decrease the likelihood of infecting yourself. Take a quick look at our video on how Betco Corporation is leading the way in innovation for a germ free lifestyle.