Monday, February 3, 2020



Graham E, back from travelling overseas (thankfully returning before the coronavirus matter hit the fan) has sent me some links to past pandemics.

For those who wish to access the items, here are Graham’s links:

Here are sopme facts about pandemics . . .


A pandemic is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region, such as multiple continents or worldwide. An epidemic is specific to one city, region, or country.

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 an estimated 100 million people in the 14th century.

Some recent pandemics include: HIV, Spanish flu, 2009 flu pandemic and H1N1.



While the coronavirus outbreak is intensifying, it has not so far been declared a pandemic.

As of 2 February 2020, approximately 14,570 cases have been confirmed, including in every province-level division of China. The first confirmed death occurred on 9 January and since then 307 deaths have been confirmed. The first local transmission of the virus outside China occurred in Vietnam from a father to his son, whereas the first local transmission not involving family occurred in Germany, on 22 January, when a German man contracted the disease from a Chinese business visitor at a meeting near Munich. The first death outside China was reported in the Philippines, where a 44-year-old man confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza B died on 1 February. There are now cases in China, Australia, Thailand, Japan, the US, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, France, Germany, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Canada and Sri Lanka.

As surgical masks run low, people in China have begun to improvise with their own creations . . .

Tin foil and tape


Lettuce leaves 

Plastic bottles 



The first case was reported in 1981 and it has now killed around 32 million people.

Approximately 75m people have been infected. At the end of 2018, almost 38 million people were living with HIV. 770,000 dying the same year.

Africa is the worst affected country.

With increasing access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition.

AIDS Memorial Quilt 


Zika Virus

In February 2016, the World Health Organisation declared the pandemic of Zika virus a public health emergency. Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. Symptoms are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. Symptoms typically last for 2–7 days. Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms. Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome. Infection with Zika virus is also associated with other complications of pregnancy including preterm birth and miscarriage. In July 2019 the WHO said the disease continues to be diagnosed, but at low levels.



There have been seven pandemics of cholera recording in history, with one still ongoing.

The World Health Organisation has stated that the current pandemic has lasted since 1961, making it the world's longest running pandemic.

Cholera sickens around 2.9 million people every year, and kills 95 000, mostly in Africa and Asia as well as the Caribbean nation of Haiti.

It is spread by water and food which contain faeces. Travellers are at risk of catching it.

There is a vaccine, but experts advise that it is not a replacement for clean water.

The first pandemic started in 1817 in South-East Asia.



Severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS coronavirus, was identified in 2003, according to the World Health Organisation, and is similar to the current coronavirus outbreak.

However, it was not officially declared a pandemic.

The outbreak originated in China and spread to 26 countries, infecting thousands and killing 774 people between 2002 and 2003. Hong Kong was particularly badly hit.

SARS, thought to originate in bats, is also a type of coronavirus, which causes flu-like symptoms, and can mutate as it spreads from person to person.


Swine Flu

In June 2009 H1N1 influenza- swine flu- infected people across 74 countries.

The World Health Organisation said it was a virus not seen before, and it originated from animal influenza viruses. It is thought to have killed approximately 280,000 people.

Bird flu, known as H151 is another form of flu also caught from animals, generally poultry. There was an outbreak in 2005.



Three out of 10 people who contracted smallpox died, as it spread across the world from the 6th to the 18th century.

It was only in 1978 that the last people died of smallpox.

A woman in the UK, Jane Parker, who is thought to have caught it from a lab at Birmingham University Medical School where she worked. Ms Parker's mother also died a few days later, after catching it from her.

While early versions of vaccines were developed in the late 1700's, it was only officially declared eradicated globally in 1980.


Spanish Flu

The 1918 influenza pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920), colloquially known as Spanish flu, 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. The death toll is estimated to have been 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million (three to five percent of Earth's population at the time), 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.

After the lethal second wave struck in late 1918, new cases dropped abruptly. One explanation for the rapid decline of the lethality of the disease is that doctors got better at preventing and treating the pneumonia that developed after the victims had contracted the virus; but it has been argued that researchers have found no evidence to support this. Another theory holds that the 1918 virus mutated extremely rapidly to a less lethal strain. This is a common occurrence with influenza viruses: There is a tendency for pathogenic viruses to become less lethal with time, as the hosts of more dangerous strains tend to die out.

Academic Andrew Price-Smith has made the argument that the virus helped tip the balance of power in the latter days of the war towards the Allied cause. He provides data that the viral waves hit the Central Powers before the Allied powers and that both morbidity and mortality in Germany and Austria were considerably higher than in Britain and France.


The Black Death

The Black Death, also known as the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The Black Death was the first major European outbreak of plague and the second plague pandemic. The plague created a number of religious, social and economic upheavals, with profound effects on the course of European history. 

The Black Death is thought to have originated in the dry plains of Central Asia or East Asia, where it travelled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1343. From there, it was most likely carried by fleas living on the black rats that travelled on all merchant ships, spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin and Europe. 

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 475 million to 350–375 million in the 14th century. It took 200 years for the world population to recover to its previous level. The plague recurred as outbreaks in Europe until the 19th century. 

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