TOP 7 WORST PLAGUES IN HISTORY

TOP 7 WORST PLAGUES IN HISTORY

 

 

1. MOSCOW PLAGUE AND RIOT 

1771

The Moscow Plague progressed from its initial appearance to a full-blown epidemic between late 1770 and the spring of 1771. Although city authorities took the usual steps of epidemic control, such as forced quarantines and confiscation/destruction of contaminated property, the city’s population reacted with uncontrolled anger, fear, and paranoia. The Moscow economy was hit by instant paralysis due to the forced closings of public and private businesses, which ultimately led to food shortages and a total breakdown of the standard of living. However, wealthier, upper-class citizens were able to escape the plague by leaving Moscow altogether during the outbreak. Finally, on September 17, 1771, a riotous crowd of a thousand confronted the army at the Spasskiye gates and demanded the end of quarantines and the release of rebel prisoners. The army and crowd attacked each other, and the army managed to disperse the crowd, arresting over three hundred demonstrators. One week later, a government commission under Grigory Orlov was created to address the demands of the citizens, providing them with clean food and work, and eventually restoring order.

 

2. GREAT PLAGUE OF MARSEILLES

1720-1722

The Great Plague of Marseilles arrived in 1720 and became one of the most significant outbreaks of bubonic plague in the eighteenth century. It spread throughout the city and the surrounding provinces, killing a hundred thousand, yet was nearly controlled through legislation. The Act of Parliament of Aix made it punishable by death for anyone to cross between Marseilles and Provence, and the Mur de la Peste plague wall helped enforce the separation. As a result, the Marseilles economy took only a few years to recover, and its population achieved pre-plague numbers by 1765.

 

3. ANTONINE PLAGUE

165-180 AD

The Antonine Plague of the Roman Empire was also called the Plague of Galen. It was likely smallpox or measles and was probably brought back by returning Roman soldiers from Near East campaigns. The Antonine Plague was so named because it claimed the lives of two Roman Emperors with the family name of Antonine: Lucius Verus in 169 and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus in 180. The plague returned again nine years later and claimed an estimated two thousand lives per day, leading to death estimates of upwards of five million among both civilians and a severely decimated Roman Army.

 

4. THE GREAT PLAGUE OF MILAN

1629-1631

The Italian Plague, or the Great Plague of Milan, was actually a small series of bubonic plague outbreaks in northern Italy covering two years and costing 280,000 lives. The highest death tolls were in Lombardy and Venice, although Milan lost almost half of its 130,000 population. The disease was brought initially to Mantua by German and French troops as part of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and then spread rapidly into the Venetian troops, who retreated into northern and central Italy and took the disease with them. This plague is usually considered to be one of the final significant outbreaks of the Black Death, which spread over several centuries throughout Europe.

 

5. AMERICAN PLAGUES

SIXTEENTH CENTURY

Since indigenous people of North and South America remained isolated from Europe, Asia, and Africa for tens of thousands of years, they had no natural immunity to many common European diseases. Although many of these diseases were minor inconveniences, some of them were devastating, especially measles and smallpox. Frequently, these diseases were passed along to Native Americans by European fishermen and hunters, well ahead of official European contact, resulting in rapid pandemics and cultural/political/military collapse. Many European settlers to the Americas encountered vast areas of cultivation with no people anywhere nearby—they were all dead. The Aztec and Inca civilizations were only weak shadows of their former magnificence by the time substantial European exploration arrived, making their enslavement relatively easy. It was only a small consolation that syphilis was passed from the Native Americans to the Europeans, and subsequently swept throughout Europe.

 

6. THE GREAT PLAGUE OF LONDON

1665-1666

The Great Plague of London killed anywhere between 75,000 and 100,000 people, which was fully one-fifth of the total London population of the time. Although the disease causing the fatalities has been historically suggested to be another small outbreak of bubonic plague or Black Death, others have suggested the symptoms seem more closely related to viral hemorrhagic fever. This was one of the last widespread pandemic outbreaks in England.

 

7. THE THIRD PANDEMIC

1855-1950

The third Pandemic began in the Yunnan Province of China in 1855 and was considered active by the World Health Organization until 1959 when its deaths finally dropped below 200 per year. It was most certainly bubonic plague and was probably started when large populations encountered infected rodents while fleeing war, famine, political unrest, and drought in central Asia. More than twelve million people in India and China alone were claimed by the Third Pandemic. Advancements in global trade then seemed to carry the disease worldwide.

 

 

 

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