The History of Epidemic

22 Nov 2020 10:10, Somoy English Desk
The History of Epidemic
The History of Epidemic

The word "epidemic" has a lot of depth. As humans have spread across the world, so have infectious diseases. In the current world situation, the epidemic has surpassed all other revolutions.  

Epidemic is often used broadly to describe any problem that has grown out of control. During an epidemic, the disease is actively spreading. An epidemic becomes a pandemic when it spreads over geographical areas and affects a large percent of the population.

In short, a pandemic is an epidemic at a national or global level.

Examples of past epidemics are the 1918 Spanish flu, the measles outbreak from 1981 to 1991, and a 2014 case of whooping cough. 

Today’s visualisation outlines some of history’s most deadly pandemics, from the Antonine Plague to the current Covid-19 event.

Disease and illnesses have plagued humanity since the earliest days, our mortal flaw. However, it was not until the marked shift to agrarian communities that the scale and spread of these diseases increased dramatically.

Widespread trade created new opportunities for human and animal interactions that sped up such epidemics. Malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, influenza, smallpox, and others first appeared during these early years.

Throughout history, nothing has killed more human beings than infectious disease. 

Covid-19 shows how vulnerable we remain – and how we can avoid similar pandemics in the future.

Take for example mosquito-borne disease malaria. It has stalked humanity for thousands of years, and while death tolls have dropped over the past 20 years, it still snuffs out nearly half a million people every year.

The 1918 influenza pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people - a number that had been fought at the same time, surpassing the death toll of World War I. The 1918 flu virus infected one in three people on the planet. HIV, an epidemic that is still with us and still lacks a vaccine, has killed an estimated 32 million people and infected 755 million, adding more every day.

Over the millennia, epidemics, in particular, have been mass killers on a scale we can’t begin to imagine today even in the time of the coronavirus.

We also need to figure out how to fight this adversity and survive.

The more civilized humans became – with larger cities, more exotic trade routes, and increased contact with different populations of people, animals, and ecosystems – the more likely pandemics would occur.

The more civilised and larger the city, the more foreign trade routes and the more human contact with different populations of people, animals and ecosystems - the more epidemics will occur. Scientists are raising this concern.

The single office of social distance - closing schools and workplaces, limiting the size of all kind of gatherings, lockdowns of varying intensity and duration - will not be enough in the long run. In the interest of managing our expectations and managing ourselves accordingly, for our epidemics, it may be helpful to imagine this crisis - non-existent, at least as a solitary wave: a wave that simply keeps rolling and rolling, continuing under its own power for a huge distance.

Covid-19 is declared a pandemic because of the speed at which it has spread globally.

The World Health Organization has already declared Covid-19 as a controllable epidemic and continues to advise on precautionary measures and ways to prevent the spread of the disease. So, our small steps can be a landmark step in chaseing away this great epidemic.


Fayazunnesa Chowdhury

Chief Coordinator (Academic), South point School & collage (Uttara branch)


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