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  1. Cholera - HISTORY

    www.history.com/topics/inventions/history-of-cholera

    Mar 24, 2020 · And of the people who do develop cholera, 20 percent come down with severe symptoms, which includes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. These symptoms can cause dehydration, septic shock and...

    • 3 min
  2. How 5 of History’s Worst Pandemics Finally Ended

    www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague...
    • Plague of Justinian—No One Left to Die
    • Black Death—The Invention of Quarantine
    • The Great Plague of London—Sealing Up The Sick
    • Smallpox—A European Disease Ravages The New World
    • Cholera—A Victory For Public Health Research

    Three of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history were caused by a single bacterium, Yersinia pestis, a fatal infection otherwise known as the plague. The Plague of Justinian arrived in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 541 CE. It was carried over the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt, a recently conquered land paying tribute to Emperor Justinian in grain. Plague-ridden fleas hitched a ride on the black rats that snacked on the grain. The plague decimated Constantinople and spread like wildfire across Europe, Asia, North Africa and Arabia killing an estimated 30 to 50 million people, perhaps half of the world’s population. “People had no real understanding of how to fight it other than trying to avoid sick people,” says Thomas Mockaitis, a history professor at DePaul University. “As to how the plague ended, the best guess is that the majority of people in a pandemic somehow survive, and those who survive have immunity.”

    The plague never really went away, and when it returned 800 years later, it killed with reckless abandon. The Black Death, which hit Europe in 1347, claimed an astonishing 200 million lives in just four years. As for how to stop the disease, people still had no scientific understanding of contagion, says Mockaitis, but they knew that it had something to do with proximity. That’s why forward-thinking officials in Venetian-controlled port city of Ragusa decided to keep newly arrived sailors in isolation until they could prove they weren’t sick. At first, sailors were held on their ships for 30 days, which became known in Venetian law as a trentino. As time went on, the Venetians increased the forced isolation to 40 days or a quarantino, the origin of the word quarantine and the start of its practice in the Western world. “That definitely had an effect,” says Mockaitis. READ MORE: How Rats and Fleas Spread the Black Death

    London never really caught a break after the Black Death. The plague resurfaced roughly every 20 years from 1348 to 1665—40 outbreaks in 300 years. And with each new plague epidemic, 20 percent of the men, women and children living in the British capital were killed. By the early 1500s, England imposed the first laws to separate and isolate the sick. Homes stricken by plague were marked with a bale of hay strung to a pole outside. If you had infected family members, you had to carry a white pole when you went out in public. Cats and dogs were believed to carry the disease, so there was a wholesale massacre of hundreds of thousands of animals. The Great Plague of 1665 was the last and one of the worst of the centuries-long outbreaks, killing 100,000 Londoners in just seven months. All public entertainment was banned and victims were forcibly shut into their homes to prevent the spread of the disease. Red crosses were painted on their doors along with a plea for forgiveness: “Lord hav...

    Smallpox was endemic to Europe, Asia and Arabia for centuries, a persistent menace that killed three out of ten people it infected and left the rest with pockmarked scars. But the death rate in the Old World paled in comparison to the devastation wrought on native populations in the New World when the smallpox virus arrived in the 15th century with the first European explorers. The indigenous peoples of modern-day Mexico and the United States had zero natural immunity to smallpox and the virus cut them down by the tens of millions. “There hasn’t been a kill off in human history to match what happened in the Americas—90 to 95 percent of the indigenous population wiped out over a century,” says Mockaitis. “Mexico goes from 11 million people pre-conquest to one million.” Centuries later, smallpox became the first virus epidemic to be ended by a vaccine. In the late 18th-century, a British doctor named Edward Jenner discovered that milkmaids infected with a milder virus called cowpox se...

    In the early- to mid-19th century, choleratore through England, killing tens of thousands. The prevailing scientific theory of the day said that the disease was spread by foul air known as a “miasma.” But a British doctor named John Snow suspected that the mysterious disease, which killed its victims within days of the first symptoms, lurked in London’s drinking water. Snow acted like a scientific Sherlock Holmes, investigating hospital records and morgue reports to track the precise locations of deadly outbreaks. He created a geographic chart of cholera deaths over a 10-day period and found a cluster of 500 fatal infections surrounding the Broad Street pump, a popular city well for drinking water. “As soon as I became acquainted with the situation and extent of this irruption (sic) of cholera, I suspected some contamination of the water of the much-frequented street-pump in Broad Street,” wrote Snow. With dogged effort, Snow convinced local officials to remove the pump handle on th...

    • Dave Roos
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  4. Pandemics That Changed History: Timeline - HISTORY

    www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/pandemics...

    Apr 01, 2020 · The symptoms included fever, thirst, bloody throat and tongue, red skin and lesions.

  5. Pandemics - HISTORY

    www.history.com/tag/pandemics

    Cholera tore through New York City in the summer of 1832, leaving its victims with sunken eyes, blue skin, severe diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. It had swept from its origin in Asia and then made...

  6. The Russian Flu of 1889: The Deadly Pandemic Few Americans ...

    www.history.com/news/1889-russian-flu-pandemic...

    Mar 23, 2020 · But within a few months, the pandemic spread to virtually every part of the earth. Tracing its path, scientists would observe that it tended to follow the major roads, rivers and, most notably ...

    • Greg Daugherty
  7. The Disease That Helped Put Colorado on the Map - HISTORY

    www.history.com/news/the-disease-that-helped-put...

    Apr 24, 2020 · The influx of TB patients that streamed into Colorado helped put the state on the map. At its heyday as a consumption sanctuary, an estimated one in three Colorado residents suffered from ...

  8. Influenza - Causes, Treatments & Pandemics - HISTORY

    www.history.com/topics/inventions/flu

    Feb 05, 2020 · Influenza is a viral respiratory infection that causes symptoms similar to, but more severe than, the common cold. Flu symptoms can include sudden onset fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose and ...

  9. Black Death - Causes, Symptoms & Impact - HISTORY

    www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/black-death
    • Black Death Begins
    • Understanding The Black Death
    • Black Plague – God’s Punishment?
    • Flagellants

    Even before the “death ships” pulled into port at Messina, many Europeans had heard rumors about a “Great Pestilence” that was carving a deadly path across the trade routes of the Near and Far East. Indeed, in the early 1340s, the disease had struck China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt. However, Europeans were scarcely equipped for the horrible reality of the Black Death. “In men and women alike,” the Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio wrote, “at the beginning of the malady, certain swellings,...

    Today, scientists understand that the Black Death, now known as the plague, is spread by a bacillus called Yersina pestis. (The French biologist Alexandre Yersin discovered this germ at the end of the 19th century.) They know that the bacillus travels from person to person pneumonically, or through the air, as well as through the bite of infected fleas and rats. Both of these pests could be found almost everywhere in medieval Europe, but they were particularly at home aboard ships of all kind...

    Because they did not understand the biology of the disease, many people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment – retribution for sins against God such as greed, blasphemy, heresy, fornication and worldliness. By this logic, the only way to overcome the plague was to win God’s forgiveness. Some people believed that the way to do this was to purge their communities of heretics and other troublemakers – so, for example, many thousands of Jews were massacred in 1348 and 134...

    Some upper-class men joined processions of flagellants that traveled from town to town and engaged in public displays of penance and punishment: They would beat themselves and one another with heavy leather straps studded with sharp pieces of metal while the townspeople looked on. For 33 1/2 days, the flagellants repeated this ritual three times a day. Then they would move on to the next town and begin the process over again. Though the flagellant movement did provide some comfort to people w...

  10. Why the US Made Marijuana Illegal - HISTORY

    www.history.com/news/why-the-u-s-made-marijuana...

    Aug 31, 2018 · Around that time, Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, an Irish doctor studying in India, documented that cannabis extracts could ease cholera symptoms like stomach pain and vomiting. By the late ...

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