A widespread or endemic disease that is stable in terms of predicting how many people are likely to get sick from the transmissible organism it is not typically considered a pandemic (which generally excludes recurrences of seasonal flu). Interestingly enough, did you know that Hippocrates, the Greek physician also known as the ‘Father of Medicine’ reportedly first described influenza in 412 BC? There have been many pandemics throughout history, including smallpox and tuberculosis. Two of the worst pandemics were:
· The Black Death (c 1346-1350) is estimated to have killed 25 million people in Europe. It came in three forms: the bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic plague. In 1855, another bubonic plague, thought to have started in China, spread to India, Africa, and the Americas. This one claimed over 12 million people in India and China alone.
· The Spanish Flu (that had nothing to do with Spain) in 1918 was contracted by an estimated one billion people or half the world’s population. Between 20 and 100 million people died.
· HIV and AIDS pandemic (upwards of 30 million may have died)· The H1N1 pandemic of 1918 and 2009 (More tomorrow)