April 29, 2009 at 5:20 pm #31277
note: What is NOT mentioned here is that it is those with strong immune systems who best survive these pandemics. Qigong and homeopathy would be my first healing tools of choice, not vaccines. And I have read accounts of the Spanish Flu epidemic that support the natural approach. – Michael
5 MOST DEADLY PANDEMICS
By Dan Bingham
April 28, 2009
For a disease epidemic to achieve the illustrious status of being pandemic,
it needs to do a little globetrotting. It needs to spread from person to
person, from country to country. Well, with cases of Swine flu, which
originated in Mexico, turning up in the U.S., Canada, Spain, New Zealand,
the U.K. and the Middle East, the World Health Organization has raised the
global pandemic alarm to 4 out of a 6 phase system. Phase 4 is described as:
Verified human-to-human transmission able to cause community-level
outbreaks. Significant increase in risk of a pandemic. The Swine flu is a
descendant of the Spanish flu, a worldwide spread of influenza which killed
millions. Health officials are doing everything they can to prepare for any
advances the Swine flu makes towards a level 6 pandemic, and while
casualties have only reached 150 people, lets have a look at five of the
deadliest pandemics this planet has ever witnessed.
They were brave warriors who vastly outnumbered their European invaders.
They were no match however, for Old World diseases like smallpox, which
wiped out 90 to 95% of the native population inhabiting the Americas. In the
last hundred years, smallpox has caused the deaths of over 300 million
people across the globe. Throughout the 18th century it killed over 60
million people in Europe alone. And according to the World Health
Organization (WHO), 15 million contracted the disease and two million died
as recently as 1967.
Smallpox, which only exists in humans, has been decimating populations for
thousands of years. It is said to have begun in Egypt nearly four thousand
years ago, and as people began to travel the world they began to spread the
disease to India, China, Japan, Europe, America, and even Australia. It
causes sufferers to have fluid filled blisters in their throats, mouths, and
on their skin. Depending on the constitutions of the carrier, smallpox would
lead to blindness, disfigurement, and death. Of the two types of smallpox,
Variola major and Variola minor, the former causes most of the casualties as
the rashes are more extreme and the fever much higher.
In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner in England discovered that by inoculating a young
boy with the fluid from a cowpox lesion, the young boy became immune to
smallpox. He is credited with the worlds first vaccination, as the word
comes from the Latin word vacca meaning cow. Smallpox was declared
eradicated on May 8th, 1980.
When a human eats food or drinks water that has been infected with the
bacterium Vibrio cholerae, he or she can be dead in less than 4 hours
without the proper treatment. The cholera disease attacks the lining of the
small intestine and causes incredible amounts of diarrhea, vomiting, fever,
dehydration, a critical drop in blood pressure, exhaustion and death.
The first outbreak of cholera reared its nasty head in 1817 in Calcutta,
after the great Kumbh festival at Hardwar in the Upper Ganges of India. The
festival attracted thousands of people from all over the country. Pilgrims
from the Lower Bengal brought the bacterium to the party, and as they
relieved themselves in the Ganges River, which was shared by everybody
during the three month festival, they started a pandemic which would spread
to the four corners of the earth. Travellers were literally bringing
boatloads of the disease from port to port as they sailed the oceans from
country to country. During the 19th century alone Asia, Europe, Africa, and
North America all reported death tolls from the hundreds of thousands, to
the millions as a result of cholera. India got hit the hardest however, with
estimated deaths of nearly 40 million people.
The prize for the Most Globally Devastating Epidemic goes to the influenza
or Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Just as World War I was coming to an
end, thousands of people around the world were suddenly getting sick with
what they believed at the time to be a common cold. In less than two years,
an estimated 20-100 million people around the world were dead from type A
influenza, wiping out 2.5% to 5% of the worlds population. It was widely
believed that this was mother natures response to the death and destruction
which occurred during the Great War. The end of the war certainly helped to
spread the disease, as millions of infected soldiers brought it back to
their home countries when the fighting was over. By 1919, 25% of Americans
were infected with influenza.
The disease was widely spread in the air from coughing and sneezing, from
contact with saliva, feces and blood. Symptoms included fever, muscle aches
(especially in the back and legs), headaches, coughing, and overall
weakness. As was mentioned earlier, it is for these reasons that many people
perished without any treatment. They thought they had a common cold, and in
less than a day, theyd be gone. Severe pneumonia was also a symptom of
influenza infection, which would easily claim the lives of the already
In the four years between 1347 and 1351, 75 million people died as the
result of a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, or the plague. Stories vary as
to where the disease started, but some believe that it began in the lungs of
the bobac variety of marmot in China. Fleas would then bite the marmots, and
would subsequently infect every animal they would bite afterwards,
especially rats. These diseased rats and fleas would follow merchants in
ships as they sailed along trade routes across Asia and into Europe.
One group sailing towards Europe was a Tartar army from central Asia, who in
their attempts to conquer a small city in the Crimea, were all but wiped out
from some mysterious disease. As they departed in defeat they hurled the
corpses of their infected soldiers into the heart of the city via catapults.
A group of Italian merchants who were living in the city at the time quickly
left the city and made their way back home in twelve vessels. Not only were
most of the sailors dead or dying by the time they reached Sicily, but they
had brought enough infected fleas and rate to spread the plague throughout
Europe and into Northern Africa. Out of 40 million people living in Europe
at the time, 25 million perished.
The plague manifested itself in three forms: bubonic, pneumonic, and
septicemic. Sufferers of the bubonic plague would develop swollen lymph
nodes or buboes on their necks, armpits, and groin. These skin bubbles would
ooze blood, puss, and would turn black as the skin decays. Sufferers would
usually die within a week. Pneumonic plague would infect the lungs causing
victims to suffocate or drown, and the septicemic plague is a form of blood
poisoning which rots the extremities and turns the skin black.
As far as the animal kingdom is concerned, mosquitoes kill more humans than
all the others combined. A tiny bite from this tiny f$%&er is all it takes
to infect someone with Plasmodium, a nasty little parasite which multiplies
in the liver and then goes on to infect the red blood cells. If gone
untreated, malaria can kill its victim in less than two weeks, disrupting
the blood supply to vital organs. While the malaria pandemic has spread to
the Americas and various parts of Asia, 85-90% of the fatalities occur in
sub-Saharan Africa, where the parasite kills over one million people per
year. Plasmodium has co-existed with humans for over 10,000 years, but
President Obama has declared that the United States, along with its world
partners, will work to eradicate malaria by 2015.
In the 30 years scientists first discovered the existence of the AIDS virus,
more than 25 million people worldwide have died from AIDS infections.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), close to 40 million people are
currently infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) which is the
virus that causes AIDS.
Although the number of people infected with AIDS continues to rise around
the world, parts of Africa maintain the highest number of HIV infected.
Sub-Sahara Africa accounts for over 60% of all HIV positive cases for the
Human Immunodeficiency virus is passed from person to person when infected
blood, semen, or vaginal secretions come in contact with an uninfected
persons broken skin or mucous membranes.
Since this article was first written, there has only been one swine flu
related death outside of Mexico. A 23-month-old toddler passed away in
Houston, Texas this week, the family of which has received the thoughts and
prayers from President Obama. The child was a resident of Mexico, and of
the 66 cases of the flu in the U.S. and 13 in Canada, all can be traced back
to Mexican visits. If you or anyone you know has been to Mexico recently or
has come into contact with someone who has, and youre experiencing
respiratory problems, fever, sever coughing, headaches, vomiting and or
diarrhea, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If caught
early, the swine flu is treatable, it can be stopped from spreading to
others, and will hopefully never reach the levels of casualties of pandemics
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