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The Deadliest Pandemics in History


The Asian Flu Pandemic claimed about 2 million lives in the period of 1957 – 1958. It began in Asia but reached the US within just a few months.

The Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 near the Republic of Congo. The Ebola fever is one of the most dangerous known to mankind – 50 – 90% of all who get sick from it die. It is highly contagious, with no vaccine yet found for it. It is considered one of the most agonizing viral diseases known to man. Since it was discovered, there have been records of about 1900 cases, of which 1300 were fatal.


Cholera was first documented in India, first reaching Europe in 1816 – 1817, then occurring around the world at different times. There are 7 known cholera pandemics, although according to some experts these can be divided into 8. The last one occurred in 1961. This deadly disease, cholera, has been called the bane of the 19th century.

Spanish flu – achieving pandemic levels, this stealthy flu reached all the corners of the world and during the period of 1918-1919 it took more human lives than World War I. Between 20-40 million people died of Spanish flu, while some historical records mention over 50 million victims.


One of the most horrific epidemics known to history is the plague. It appeared between 540 and 541 in Egypt. In the period between the years 540 and 700, more than 50% of Europe’s population fell victim to the so-called bubonic plague.

It reemerged again much later – in about 1300, this time originating from Asia and reaching Europe (by 1348), thereby earning the status of pandemic. After it stormed into the Old Continent, the Black Death claimed over 20 million victims in about 6 years. Known by various names throughout different periods (Plague of Justinian, Black Death, Bubonic Plague), the Plague took the lives of over 200 million human beings.

No less dangerous is variola, also known as the smallpox. There have been cases of smallpox from prehistoric times until 1977. Throughout the 20th century alone, it took the lives of about 350-400 million people. In 1980, this disease was labeled as eradicated.