List of epidemics

Last updated
List of epidemics
1607-35 Pesttafel Augsburg anagoria.JPG
Plague panel with the triumph of death. 1607–35, Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin
DurationHuman history

This article is a list of epidemics of infectious disease. Widespread and chronic complaints such as heart disease and allergy are not included if they are not thought to be infectious.

Epidemic rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time

An epidemic is the rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less. For example, in meningococcal infections, an attack rate in excess of 15 cases per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks is considered an epidemic.

Allergy Immune system response to a substance that most people tolerate well

Allergies, also known as allergic diseases, are a number of conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to typically harmless substances in the environment. These diseases include hay fever, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include red eyes, an itchy rash, sneezing, a runny nose, shortness of breath, or swelling. Food intolerances and food poisoning are separate conditions.


15th century and earlier

Death toll (estimate)LocationDateArticleDiseaseRef.
75,000–100,000 Greece 429–426 BC Plague of Athens unknown, possibly typhus [1]
5 million; 30% of population in some areasEurope, Western Asia, Northern Africa165–180 Antonine Plague unknown, symptoms similar to smallpox [2]
Europe 250–266 Plague of Cyprian unknown, possibly smallpox [3]
25–50 million; 40% of populationEurope, Egypt, West Asia541–542 Plague of Justinian plague [4]
Rome 590 Roman Plague of 590 plague [5]
> 100,000 Ctesiphon, Persia 627 plague [6]
British Isles 664–668 Plague of 664 plague [7] [ page needed ]
British Isles 680–686 plague [7] [ page needed ]
Japan 735–737 735–737 Japanese smallpox epidemic Smallpox [8] [9]
Byzantine Empire, West Asia, Africa746–747 plague [10]
75–200 million; 30–60% of populationEurope, Asia and North Africa1331–1353 Black Death plague
Yersinia pestis Yersinia pestis fluorescent.jpeg
Yersinia pestis

16–17th centuries

Death toll (estimate)LocationDateArticleDiseaseRef.
5–15 million (80% of population) Mexico 1545–1548 Cocoliztli Epidemic of 1545–1548 Possibly Salmonella enterica [12] [13] [14] [15]
Over 20,100 Londoners died. London 1563–1564 1563 London plague plague
2–2.5 million (50% of population) Mexico 1576 Cocoliztli epidemic of 1576 Possibly Salmonella enterica [12] [13] [14] [15]
Seneca nation 1592–1596 measles [16]
Over 19,900 people died in London and outer parishes London 1592–1593 1592–93 London plague plague
Spain 1596–1602 plague [17]
South America 1600–1650 malaria
England 1603 plague
Egypt 1609 plague
30–90% of population Southern New England, especially the Wampanoag people 1616–1619Unknown cause. Latest research suggests epidemic(s) of leptospirosis with Weil syndrome. Classic explanations include yellow fever, bubonic plague, influenza, smallpox, chickenpox, typhus, and syndemic infection of hepatitis B and hepatitis D. [18] [19]
280,000 Italy 1629–1631 Italian plague of 1629–1631 plague [20]
Wyandot people 1630 smallpox
Thirteen Colonies 1633 smallpox
Thirteen Colonies 1634 smallpox
England 1636 plague
China 1641–1644 plague [21]
Spain 1647–1652 Great Plague of Seville plague
South America 1648 yellow fever
Italy 1656 plague
Thirteen Colonies 1657 measles
24,148 [22] Netherlands 1663–1664 plague
100,000 [23] England 1665–1666 Great Plague of London plague [24]
40,000 France 1668 plague
Spain 1676–1685 plague
76,000 Austria 1679 Great Plague of Vienna plague
Thirteen Colonies 1687 measles
Thirteen Colonies 1690 yellow fever

18th century

Death toll (estimate)LocationDateArticleDiseaseRef.
Canada, New France 1702–1703 smallpox [25]
Sweden 1710–1712 Great Northern War plague outbreak plague
Thirteen Colonies 1713 measles
Thirteen Colonies 1713–1715 measles
Canada, New France 1714–1715 measles [26]
France 1720–1722 plague [27]
Thirteen Colonies 1721–1722 smallpox [28]
Thirteen Colonies 1729 measles
Spain 1730 yellow fever
Thirteen Colonies 1732–1733 influenza [29]
Canada, New France 1733 smallpox [30]
> 50,000 Balkans 1738 Great Plague of 1738 plague
Thirteen Colonies 1738 smallpox
Thirteen Colonies 1739–1740 measles
Italy 1743 plague
Thirteen Colonies 1747 measles
North America 1755–1756 smallpox
North America 1759 measles
North America, West Indies 1761 influenza
North America, present-day Pittsburgh area.1763 Smallpox
> 50,000 Russia 1770–1772 Russian plague of 1770–1772 plague
Pacific Northwest natives 1770s smallpox [31]
North America 1772 measles
> 2,000,000 Persia 1772 plague [6]
North America 1775unknown cause
England 1775–1776 influenza [32]
Spain 1778 dengue fever
Plains Indians 1780–1782 North American smallpox epidemic smallpox [33]
Pueblo Indians 1788 smallpox
United States 1788 measles
New South Wales, Australia 1789–1790 smallpox [34]
United States 1793 influenza and epidemic typhus
United States 1793 influenza
United States 1793–1798 Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, resurgences yellow fever [35]

19th century

Death toll (estimate)LocationDateArticleDiseaseRef.
Spain 1800–1803 yellow fever [36]
Ottoman Empire, Egypt 1801 bubonic plague [37]
United States 1803 yellow fever
Egypt 1812 plague
Ottoman Empire 1812 plague
Malta 1813 plague
Romania 1813 plague
Ireland 1816–1819 typhus
> 100,000 Asia, Europe 1816–1826 First cholera pandemic cholera [38]
United States 1820–1823 fever [ ambiguous ]
Spain 1821 yellow fever [39]
New South Wales, Australia 1828 smallpox [40]
Netherlands 1829 Groningen epidemic malaria
South Australia 1829 smallpox [41]
Iran 1829–1835 bubonic plague [42]
> 100,000 Asia, Europe, North America 1829–1851 Second cholera pandemic cholera [38]
Egypt 1831 cholera [43] [44]
Plains Indians 1831–1834 smallpox
England, France 1832 cholera
North America 1832 cholera
United States 1833 cholera
United States 1834 cholera
Egypt 1834–1836 bubonic plague [43] [44]
United States 1837 typhus
Great Plains 1837–1838 1837–38 smallpox epidemic smallpox [45]
Dalmatia 1840 plague
South Africa 1840 smallpox
United States 1841 yellow fever
> 20,000 Canada 1847–1848 Typhus epidemic of 1847 epidemic typhus [46]
United States 1847 yellow fever
Worldwide1847–1848 influenza [47]
Egypt 1848 cholera [43] [44]
North America 1848–1849 cholera
United States 1850 yellow fever
North America 1850–1851 influenza
United States 1851 cholera
United States 1852 yellow fever
1,000,000 Russia 1852–1860 Third cholera pandemic cholera [38]
Ottoman Empire 1853 plague [48]
4,737 Copenhagen, Denmark 1853 Cholera epidemic of Copenhagen 1853 cholera [49]
616 England 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak cholera [50]
United States 1855 yellow fever
Worldwide1855–1960 Third plague pandemic bubonic plague [51]
Portugal 1857 yellow fever
Victoria, Australia1857 smallpox [52]
Europe, North America, South America 1857–1859 influenza [53]
Middle East 1863–1879 Fourth cholera pandemic cholera [38]
Egypt 1865 cholera [43] [44]
Russia, Germany 1866–1867 cholera
Australia 1867 measles
Iraq 1867 plague [54]
Argentina 1852–1871 yellow fever [55]
Germany 1870–1871 smallpox
40,000 Fiji 1875 measles [56]
Russian Empire 1877 plague [57]
Egypt 1881 cholera [43] [44]
> 9,000 India, Germany 1881–1896 Fifth cholera pandemic cholera [38]
3,164 Montreal 1885 smallpox timeline
1,000,000Worldwide1889–1890 1889–1890 flu pandemic influenza [58]

20th century

Death toll (estimate)LocationDateArticleDiseaseRef.
Congo Basin 1896–1906 trypanosomiasis [59]
> 800,000 Europe, Asia, Africa 1899–1923 Sixth cholera pandemic cholera [38]
113 San Francisco 1900–1904 Third plague pandemic bubonic plague [60]
West Africa 1900 yellow fever
Uganda 1900–1920 trypanosomiasis [61]
Egypt 1902 cholera [43] [44]
India 1903 plague [62]
4 Fremantle 1903 bubonic plague [63]
40,000 China 1910–1912 bubonic plague [64]
75,000,000worldwide1918–1920 Spanish flu influenza
Spanish Flu Virus Reconstructed Spanish Flu Virus.jpg
Spanish Flu Virus
Russia 1918–1922 typhus
Egypt 1942–1944 malaria [43] [44]
China 1946 bubonic plague
Egypt 1946 relapsing fever [43] [44]
Egypt 1947 cholera [43] [44]
2,000,000worldwide1957–1958 Asian flu influenza [66]
worldwide1961–1975 Seventh cholera pandemic cholera [38]
4 Sweden 1963 smallpox [67] [68]
1,000,000worldwide1968–1969 Hong Kong flu influenza [66]
5 Netherlands 1971 poliomyelitis [69]
35 Yugoslavia 1972 1972 outbreak of smallpox in Yugoslavia smallpox
United States 1972–1973London flu influenza [70]
15,000 India 1974 1974 smallpox epidemic of India smallpox
> 30,000,000worldwide
(commenced in Congo Basin)
1960–present HIV/AIDS pandemic HIV/AIDS [71]
South America 1990s cholera
52 India 1994 1994 plague epidemic in Surat plague [72]
West Africa 1996 meningitis
Central America 2000 dengue fever [73]

21st century

Death toll (estimate)LocationDateArticleDiseaseRef.
Nigeria 2001 cholera [74]
South Africa 2001 cholera [75]
775 Asia 2002–2003 SARS SARS coronavirus
Algeria 2003 plague [76]
Afghanistan 2004 Leishmaniasis [77]
Bangladesh 2004 Cholera [78]
Indonesia 2004 dengue fever
Senegal 2004 cholera [79]
Sudan 2004 Ebola
Mali 2005 yellow fever [80]
19 Singapore 2005 2005 dengue outbreak in Singapore dengue fever [81]
Luanda, Angola 2006 cholera [82]
Ituri Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo 2006 plague
India 2006 malaria [83]
> 50 India 2006 2006 dengue outbreak in India dengue fever [84]
India 2006 Chikungunya outbreaks Chikungunya virus [85]
> 50 Pakistan 2006 2006 dengue outbreak in Pakistan dengue fever [86]
Philippines 2006 dengue fever
Democratic Republic of the Congo 2007 Mweka ebola epidemic Ebola [87]
Ethiopia 2007 cholera [88]
49 India 2008 cholera [89]
10 Iraq 2007 2007 Iraq cholera outbreak cholera [90]
Nigeria 2007 Poliomyelitis [91]
Puerto Rico; Dominican Republic; Mexico 2007 dengue fever [92]
Somalia 2007 cholera [93]
Uganda 2007 Ebola
Vietnam 2007 cholera [94]
Brazil 2008 dengue fever
Cambodia 2008 dengue fever [95]
Chad 2008 cholera [96]
China 2008 hand, foot and mouth disease
Madagascar 2008 bubonic plague [97]
Philippines 2008 dengue fever [98]
Vietnam 2008 cholera [99]
4,293 Zimbabwe 2008–2009 2008–2009 Zimbabwean cholera outbreak cholera
18 Bolivia 2009 2009 Bolivian dengue fever epidemic dengue fever
49 India 2009 2009 Gujarat hepatitis outbreak hepatitis B
Queensland, Australia2009 dengue fever [100]
worldwide2009 Mumps outbreaks in the 2000s mumps
931 West Africa 2009–2010 2009–2010 West African meningitis outbreak meningitis [101]
14,286worldwide2009 2009 flu pandemic influenza [102] [103]
9,985 (May 2017) Hispaniola 2010–present Haiti cholera outbreak cholera [104] [105]
> 4,500 (February 2014) Democratic Republic of the Congo 2011–present measles [106] [107]
170 Vietnam 2011–present hand, foot and mouth disease [108] [109]
> 350 Pakistan 2011–present 2011 dengue outbreak in Pakistan dengue fever
847 (as of 10 January 2013) Darfur Sudan 2012 2012 yellow fever outbreak in Darfur, Sudan yellow fever [110]
449 (as of 11 June 2015)Worldwide2012–present 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus outbreak Middle East respiratory syndrome [111]
>> 11,300West Africa2013–2016 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa Ebola virus disease
Ebola virus virion Ebola virus virion.jpg
Ebola virus virion
[112] [113]
183 Americas 2013–2015 2013–14 chikungunya outbreak Chikungunya [114]
40 Madagascar 2014–present 2014 Madagascar plague outbreak Bubonic plague [115]
36 India 2014–present 2014 Odisha jaundice outbreak primarily Hepatitis E, but also Hepatitis A [116]
2,035 India 2015–present 2015 Indian swine flu outbreak Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 [117] [118] [119]
worldwide2015–present 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic Zika virus
Hundreds (as of 1 April 2016) Africa 2016 2016 yellow fever outbreak in Angola yellow fever [120]
1,614 (as of 4 July 2017) Yemen 2016–present 2016–17 Yemen cholera outbreak cholera
64 (as of 16 August 2017) India 2017–present 2017 Gorakhpur Japanese encephalitis outbreak Japanese encephalitis
17 (as of June 2018) India 2018–present 2018 Nipah virus outbreak Nipah virus infection
2,094 (as of 15 September 2019) Democratic Republic of the Congo & Uganda Aug. 2018–present 2018-19 Kivu Ebola epidemic Ebola virus disease [121] [122]
1 Mozambique Mar. 2019–present Cholera [123]

Related Research Articles

Cholera Bacterial infection of the small intestine

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The classic symptom is large amounts of watery diarrhea that lasts a few days. Vomiting and muscle cramps may also occur. Diarrhea can be so severe that it leads within hours to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. This may result in sunken eyes, cold skin, decreased skin elasticity, and wrinkling of the hands and feet. Dehydration can cause the skin to turn bluish. Symptoms start two hours to five days after exposure.

Pandemic global epidemic of infectious disease

A pandemic is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics generally exclude recurrences of seasonal flu. Throughout history, there have been a number of pandemics, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. One of the most devastating pandemics was the Black Death, which killed over 75 million people in 1350. The most recent pandemics include the HIV pandemic as well as the 1918 and 2009 H1N1 pandemics.

Zoonosis infectious disease that is transmitted between species (sometimes by a vector) from animals other than humans to humans or from humans to other animals

Zoonoses are infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites that spread between animals and humans.

Dengue fever tropical disease caused by the dengue virus, transmitted by mosquito

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Recovery generally takes two to seven days. In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Spanish flu 1918 influenza pandemic

The 1918 influenza pandemic was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus. It infected 500 million people around the world, including people on remote Pacific islands and in the Arctic. Between 50 million and 100 million died, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify with certainty the pandemic's geographic origin.

Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 Subtype of the influenza A virus

Influenza (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that was the most common cause of human influenza (flu) in 2009, and is associated with the 1918 outbreak known as the Spanish flu.

Disease surveillance is an epidemiological practice by which the spread of disease is monitored in order to establish patterns of progression. The main role of disease surveillance is to predict, observe, and minimize the harm caused by outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic situations, as well as increase knowledge about which factors contribute to such circumstances. A key part of modern disease surveillance is the practice of disease case reporting.

Globalization, the flow of information, goods, capital, and people across political and geographic boundaries, allows infectious diseases to rapidly spread around the world, while also allowing the alleviation of factors such as hunger and poverty, which are key determinants of global health. The spread of diseases across wide geographic scales has increased through history. Early diseases that spread from Asia to Europe were bubonic plague, influenza of various types, and similar infectious diseases.

Influenza infectious disease

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, sneezing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks. In children, there may be diarrhea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults. Diarrhea and vomiting occur more commonly in gastroenteritis, which is an unrelated disease and sometimes inaccurately referred to as "stomach flu" or the "24-hour flu". Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.

Social distancing Reduction of human social interaction in an effort to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Social distancing is a term applied to certain nonpharmaceutical infection control actions that are taken by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between persons carrying an infection, and others who are not infected, so as to minimize disease transmission, morbidity and ultimately, mortality.

Influenza prevention involves taking steps that one can use to decrease their chances of contracting flu viruses, such as the Pandemic H1N1/09 virus, responsible for the 2009 flu pandemic.

<i>Zika virus</i> Species of virus

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Its name comes from the Ziika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Zika virus is related to the dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses. Since the 1950s, it has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, leading to the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic.

Social history of viruses

The social history of viruses describes the influence of viruses and viral infections on human history. Epidemics caused by viruses began when human behaviour changed during the Neolithic period, around 12,000 years ago, when humans developed more densely populated agricultural communities. This allowed viruses to spread rapidly and subsequently to become endemic. Viruses of plants and livestock also increased, and as humans became dependent on agriculture and farming, diseases such as potyviruses of potatoes and rinderpest of cattle had devastating consequences.

Cholera outbreaks and pandemics

Seven cholera pandemics have occurred in the past 200 years, with the seventh pandemic originating in Indonesia in 1961. Additionally, there have been many documented cholera outbreaks, such as a 1991-1994 outbreak in South America and, more recently, the 2016–19 Yemen cholera outbreak.

Ira Longini is an American biostatistician and infectious disease epidemiologist.

A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is a formal declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of "an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response", formulated when a situation arises that is "serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected", which "carries implications for public health beyond the affected State's national border" and "may require immediate international action". Under the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR), States have a legal duty to respond promptly to a PHEIC.

Diseases and epidemics of the 19th century Diseases and epidemics of the 19th century reached epidemic proportions in the case of cholera

Diseases and epidemics of the 19th century reached epidemic proportions in the case of one emerging infectious disease: cholera. Other important diseases at that time in Europe and other regions included smallpox, typhus and yellow fever.

John S. Marr American writer and doctor

John S Marr is an American physician, epidemiologist, and author. His professional life has concerned outbreaks of infectious disease and thus his subsequent writing career has focused on that topic, particularly historical epidemics.

This is a timeline of influenza, briefly describing major events such as outbreaks, epidemics, pandemics, discoveries and developments of vaccines. In addition to specific year/period-related events, there's the seasonal flu that kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people every year, and has claimed between 340 million and 1 billion human lives throughout history.


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Further reading

Digital object identifier Character string used as a permanent identifier for a digital object, in a format controlled by the International DOI Foundation

In computing, a digital object identifier (DOI) is a persistent identifier or handle used to identify objects uniquely, standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An implementation of the Handle System, DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.

PubMed Central (PMC) is a free digital repository that archives publicly accessible full-text scholarly articles that have been published within the biomedical and life sciences journal literature. As one of the major research databases within the suite of resources that have been developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), PubMed Central is much more than just a document repository. Submissions into PMC undergo an indexing and formatting procedure which results in enhanced metadata, medical ontology, and unique identifiers which all enrich the XML structured data for each article on deposit. Content within PMC can easily be interlinked to many other NCBI databases and accessed via Entrez search and retrieval systems, further enhancing the public's ability to freely discover, read and build upon this portfolio of biomedical knowledge.