Updated: 2011-10-30 07:47
By Deng Zhangyu (China Daily)
A quick history of Major epidemics
1348 - Europe
The chilly spring unleashed a rampage of deaths across Europe that was unprecedented in recorded history.
The Black Death, transmitted by infected fleas on rats, decimated Europe's population by 15 percent to 50 percent according to different estimates.
1918 - US & Europe
The "Spanish Flu" killed more people than World War I - somewhere between 20 to 50 million people.
More people die of the influenza virus, H1N1, in a single year than in the three years of the Black Death.
The epidemic, so named because of the severe affliction and large mortalities in Spain, actually started in Kansas and penetrated military camps throughout the US.
The pandemic entered Europe via troop ships and soon spread across the entire globe.
The epidemic was so severe that the average lifespan in the US was depressed by 10 years.
1976 - Africa
The Ebola haemorrhagic fever swept across Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, resulting in more than 1,200 deaths.
The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected people. The fatality rate is usually about 90 percent.
2002/2003 - Global
SARS, caused by a mutant coronavirus, hits Hong Kong and heads to East Asia as well as Canada, killing 774 people. It is transmitted via infected droplets in the air.
2003-2004 - Global
The most recent avian influenza, a H5N1 virus subtype, spread from Asia to Europe and Africa, and becomes entrenched in poultry in some countries.
It resulted in millions of poultry infections and fatalities, several hundred human cases and 331 human deaths.
2009-2010 - Global
The terrible memory of H1N1 still hangs over our heads with a death toll of 190.
The flu outbreak that first spread from Mexico to the southern US caused widespread panic about eating pork and pig-related products.
It's now been proved that the transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human influenza.
(China Daily 10/30/2011 page3)