Some of the world’s worst health pandemics

Throughout history, there have been many pandemics across the world including smallpox, cholera and influenza listed as some of the worst. Though, what are some other pandemics we might not have heard about before?

The team at House Call Doctor have put together a list of some other outbreaks.

HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Since HIV/AIDS was first identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, there have been more than 36 million deaths across the globe. To date, there are also between 31 and 35 million people living with HIV, with majority of these cases being in Sub-Saharan Africa. As new treatments are constantly being developed to help make HIV more manageable, the annual global death rate has dropped from2.2 million to 1.6 million between 2005 and 2012.

Common early symptoms of HIV include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue and/or headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches and joint pain
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea, diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • Dry cough and/or sore throat
  • Sweats (typically at night).

According to Ending HIV, the symptoms listed above are in order of how they usually appear in the early stages of identifying HIV.

Flu Pandemic

The most recent worldwide flu pandemic was in 1968 which killed more than one million people, including 500,000 residents in Hong Kong. Since the first reported case, it simply took 17 days for the virus to spread with outbreaks being reported in Singapore and Vietnam. Another three months later, and outbreaks were also being reported in Australia, the Philippines, India, Europe and the United States.

Common symptoms of influenza can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea (typically more common in children)
  • Muscle and body aches

Though most people who get influenza recover in several days, there can be complications (such as pneumonia) which may be life-threatening.

The Black Death

Otherwise known as the Great Plague and the Black Plague, this pandemic has been recorded as one of the worst in history with an estimated death toll of 75 to 200 million people. The plague is thought to have been spread by fleas living on rats which frequently lived on merchant ships going abroad. As ports were major urban centres during 1346-1353 when the plague occurred, they were the perfect place for rats and fleas to breed. The main areas affected were the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia.

There are three main types of the plague –bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic. Each of these has different symptoms including:

  • Bubonic plague: symptoms include fever and chills, headache, general weakness, seizures, fatigue and muscle aches
  • Septicemic plague: symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever and chills, extreme weakness, shock, bleeding, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Pneumonic plague:symptoms include chest pain, cough, difficulty breathing, headache, fever and weakness.
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