General, Research, Technology

How did the most famous disease epidemics end?

Throughout the history of mankind, it was recordedmore than ten major epidemics, during which hundreds of thousands of people died. One such tough time is going on right now - the coronavirus pandemic is still here. But scientists at least quickly figured out what caused this disease and even developed several vaccines. And hundreds of years ago, during the spread of plague, smallpox and other terrible diseases, people did not even understand what was happening to them. There were no methods of treatment and people could only hope for a miracle. Fortunately, even these difficult times have passed and diseases have been overcome. As part of this article, I propose to talk about how the most famous disease epidemics ended. All these cases give hope that the coronavirus will also someday be completely defeated.

No matter how terrible the epidemic is, sooner or later it will end


  • 1 Justinian's plague in ancient Rome
  • 2 Black death in Europe
  • 3 Plague in London
  • 4 Smallpox in the USA and Europe

Justinian's plague in ancient Rome

The first pandemic in human history is knownlike Justinian's plague. It began in the capital of the Roman Empire, the city of Constantinople, in 541 BC. In those days, people could not understand what kind of illness struck them. On the bodies of infected people, buboes appeared - inflamed lymph nodes. Also, some people have had hemoptysis. During this epidemic, 5-10 thousand people died every day. It is believed that the disease was spread by infected mice that arrived in the Roman Empire from Egypt by ship. The plague quickly spread throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa, killing up to 100 million people... In those days, the population of the Earth was small, so the disease destroyed 50% of the civilized world.

Justinian's plague as seen by the artist. Terrible sight

Even modern scientists could not understand for a long timebecause of what exactly a terrible disease arose. Only in 2013 did they find strong evidence that the causative agent of the disease was the plague bacillus (Yersinia pestis), that is, people were sick with bubonic plague. A cure for the disease was never found. The epidemic ended only when everyone became infected with the disease. Many people died, and those who survived became immune.

Plague stick, causative agent of the bubonic plague

Black Death in Europe

The second plague pandemic began about 800 years agolater, in Europe. Tens of millions of people fell victim to the deadly disease, with the peak incidence between 1346 and 1353. The exact number of victims is unknown, but sources say that from 30 to 60% of the European population died from the disease... People still did not know what caused the disease, so at this time a lot of superstitions arose.

The picture shows the plague doctors. They wore elongated masks that supposedly protected them from the "sick smell"

But people finally understood that the diseasetransmitted by contact with infected. After that, measures began to be taken to isolate the sick from healthy people. When ships sailed to Europe, guests had to stay inside the ship for 30-40 days. Exit from the ship was only allowed to eat during this time, no sick people were found inside. This is how the quarantine was invented, thanks to which the number of infected people finally decreased.

Interesting fact: the number 40 in Italian sounds like "quaranta". This is how the word "quarantine" appeared.

Plague epidemic in London

London suffered greatly from plague epidemics, thereforethat in this city there were outbreaks of the black plague even after the "black death" described above. According to historical data, between 1348 and 1665, about 40 plague outbreaks were recorded in the British capital. That is, the disease occurred almost every 10 years and took the lives of about 20% of the city's population.

Plague in London as seen by the artist. Pay attention to the cross on the door of the house - he warned that there is an infected person inside

Time passed and at one point the authorities issued a lawabout the isolation of the sick. People with the plague were forcibly locked in their homes. A haystack was placed next to the infected dwellings as a warning of danger. Later, more noticeable signs appeared in the form of red crosses installed on the doors with the inscription "God, have mercy on us!" The most devastating outbreak occurred in 1665 and killed 100,000 Londoners. Thanks to the measures taken, the number of infections has declined. In 1666, a large fire began in the city, during which the remaining infected people and rats carrying the disease died.

See also: Was social distance observed during the plague?

Smallpox in the USA and Europe

Smallpox is a highly contagious disease that has claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the history of mankind. Only in the XX century from this terrible disease killed 300 million... It is characterized by a severe course andaccompanied by fever and rash all over the body. At first it spread throughout Europe, but in the 15th century it was passed on by travelers to the indigenous population of America. According to historical data, in one century smallpox killed 95% of the population of the current territories of the United States and Mexico.

I will not insert a photograph of the consequences of smallpox, this is too scary a sight

Salvation from smallpox was found only in the 18th century.It was then that British physician Edward Jenner noticed that smallpox did not infect milkmaids. It turned out that the women had already contracted cowpox while working, which is not dangerous to humans. The first vaccine was developed on the basis of vaccinia, which made it possible to end the epidemic. In 1980, the World Health Organization announced that smallpox no longer existed.

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As you can see, even the most terrible epidemics of diseasessooner or later ended. And the end of the coronavirus pandemic is just a matter of time. At the moment, several vaccines have been developed and one of them is the Russian "Sputnik-5". Many treat him with skepticism and to do it or not is a private matter for everyone. You can read how it works at this link.