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History of Pandemics

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Influenza Pandemic - Spanish Flu - 1918

Spanish flu \ˈspan-ish-\ also Spanish influenza noun

influenza that is caused by a subtype (H1N1) of an orthomyxovirus (species Influenza A virus of the genus Influenzavirus A) and that was responsible for about 500,000 deaths in the U.S. in the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 <Between 20 million and 40 million died around the globe of the Spanish flu of 1918, probably the worst pandemic in human history. —Douglas M. Birch, Baltimore Sun, 16 Dec. 1997> compare ASIAN FLU, HONG KONG FLU

Spanish flu. (2016). In Merriam-Webster (Ed.), Merriam Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Credo Reference:


Asian Flu 1957-58

Asian flu

(1957) : influenza that is caused by a subtype (H2N2) of the orthomyxovirus causing influenza A and that was responsible for about 70,000 deaths in the U.S. in the influenza pandemic of 1957–58 —called also Asian influenza

"Asian flu." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, 11th edition, 2012. Credo Reference, Accessed 18 May 2021.

Hong Kong Flu 1968-70

Hong Kong flu \ˈhäᵑ-ˈkäᵑ-\ also Hong Kong influenza

influenza that is caused by a subtype (H3N2) of the orthomyxovirus (species Influenza A virus of the genus Influenzavirus A) and that was responsible for about 34,000 deaths in the United States in the influenza pandemic of 1968–1969 compare asian flu, spanish flu.

Hong Kong flu. (2016). In Merriam-Webster (Ed.), Merriam Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Credo Reference:

HIV and Aids

HIV from Collins Dictionary of Biology

human immunodeficiency virus which in some individuals gives rise to AIDS. It is a RETROVIRUS, at one time referred to as Aids-associated retrovirus. The association of HIV with AIDS has been known since 1983, and a second related virus was found in West Africa in 1987; these two viruses are now designated HIV 1 and HIV 2 respectively.

Difficulties have occurred in developing an effective anti-HIV vaccine, particularly because of variations in the antigenic viral surface protein. see ANTIGENIC VARIATION. It is thought that HIV was introduced to the human population from chimpanzees. HIV has significant potential in the field of medicine. Once stripped of its lethal elements it is probably capable of delivering genes to tissues in the brain, spinal cord, liver and heart muscle and it is unique in that it is able to insert genes into cells which are not dividing. Techniques are at present being developed, using HIV, to protect transplanted organs such as liver and heart from both infection and rejection by the immune system.

HIV. (2005). In W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, & J. P. Margham, Collins dictionary of biology (2nd ed.). Collins. Credo Reference:

SARS 2002-03

SARS from Collins Dictionary of Medicine

Acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the epidemic lung infection that started in Guangdong province and Hong Kong in early 2003 and spread rapidly to many parts of the world. The virus is a new coronavirus and has the largest genome of any RNA virus yet found. The genome was sequenced in May 2003. SARS features fever, influenza-like symptoms, and X-ray appearances of infiltrates of variable density compatible with pneumonia. The mortality increases with age and may be as high as 50 per cent in patients over 65. Treatment is with antiviral drugs such as ribavirin in combination with antibiotics such as levofloxacin or clarithromycin. The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 has been identified as the receptor for the coronavirus.

Sars. (2005). In R. M. Youngson, Collins Dictionary of Medicine (4th ed.). Collins. Credo Reference:

Swine Flu H1N1 2009-10

Swine Flu from Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary

SWINE INFLUENZA; also :influenza of humans that is caused by a subtype (H1N1) of an orthomyxovirus (species Influenza A virus of the genus Influenzavirus A) originating in swine and is marked especially by fever, sore throat, cough, chills, body aches, fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.

swine flu. (2016). In Merriam-Webster (Ed.), Merriam Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Credo Reference:

MERS 2012 - Present

MERS (mûrz) n.from The American Heritage Dictionary of Medicine

A severe, contagious respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, characterized by fever, cough, and shortness of breath, first identified in Saudi Arabia.

Mers. (2015). In The Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries (Ed.), The American Heritage Dictionary of Medicine (2nd ed.). Houghton Mifflin. Credo Reference:

Ebola 2014-16

Ebola Virus Disease from Black's Medical Dictionary, 43rd Edition

The ebola virus is one of the most virulent micro-organisms known, causing a variety of VIRAL HAEMORRHAGIC FEVER. Like the MARBURG virus, it belongs to the filovirus group which originates in Africa. An epidemic in West Africa in 2014–15 resulted in over 28,000 reported cases and more than 11,000 deaths. This high mortality rate was not the case in the small number of European and US health workers who contracted the disease but were treated in their own countries with intensive intravenous fluid replacement and respiratory and renal support, sometimes with the addition of investigatory use of antiviral drugs and MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY DRUGS. Strict anti-contagion measures eventually reduced spread of the epidemic since it is spread by body fluid contact from an infected person.

Ebola virus disease. (2018). In H. Marcovitch (Ed.), Black's Medical Dictionary, 43rd edition (43rd ed.). A&C Black. Credo Reference:

COVID-19 2019-Present

RETURN OF THE CORONAVIRUS: Early History of the COVID-19 Crisis (2019)

from Opinions Throughout History: Diseases & Epidemic

The COVID-19 crisis dramatically changed life in the United States. The pandemic began in late 2019, and by early 2020 had spread around the world. By October 2020, it was responsible for 1.2 million deaths globally. This makes COVID-19 deadlier than the majority of recorded wars in the modern era. The death toll in the United States is over 220,000 so far, making it one of the countries hit most severely by the disease, largely the result of poor government response and management. The early history of the disease demonstrates how the World Health Organization responded when the first reports began to appear in December of a new disease with the potential to create a pandemic. At the end of January, for only the sixth time since 1948, the WHO issued a Global Health Emergency, and by March had officially labeled COVID-19 a global pandemic But by the end of January it was already clear that the disease was spreading around the world and that containment efforts had failed. More...

RETURN OF THE CORONAVIRUS: Early history OF THE COVID-19 crisis (2019). (2020). In M. L. Issit, Opinions throughout history: Diseases & epidemics. Grey House Publishing. Credo Reference: