Worst Health Scares


By Catherine Hien

Lion's Roar Staff


Experiencing and living during a global pandemic is the new norm of our everyday lives. COVID-19 is the most recent pandemic in our lives, however, past diseases have surpassed the deaths of the current virus by millions.

Taking the time to research and reflect upon past diseases is certainly interesting and scary at the same time. Death tolls ascend as more diseases surface. The research I have cautiously put in for this subject is strictly from the Public Health Organization, which displays the top worst pandemics to over walk the Earth.

As the organization stated, “one might find some morbid comfort in considering the historical context of global pandemics” (Public Health Online), which is something that everyone can relate to in this day of age.

Starting from the bottom of the worst, the Hong Kong Flu (1968-1970) had a mortality rate of 0.1% to 0.5% with a death toll of around 1 million people. One could have gotten this virus through coughing, sneezing, and breathing (sound familiar?). Approximately 1.5 out of every 10 people had a chance to contain the sickness. Starting out in Asia and spreading around the world, the highly contagious virus was officially named a global pandemic. Ranking seven for the worst health scare in the world, the Hong Kong flu can still victimize the public.

Next, ranking sixth in the world for worst public health scare is the Third Plague pandemics (1855-1960). The number of deaths escalates from 13-15 million people. The Plague resided in China and spread throughout the entire world. The spread was through bugs such as fleas and caused through bacteria. The world is a scary place, especially when the Plague was casually around.

Carrying on, next we have the Plague of Justinian (541-542). Populations were whipped out with the death toll of 25-100 million people. Laborers were killed, which sparked the end of slavery in the Byzantine Empire.

To continue, the rank of the fourth worst global pandemic is the HIV/AIDS pandemic (1981-present). Through the spread of the virus, one can get it through blood, semen, or breast milk of an infected person (Public Health Online). With over 32 million deaths, this pandemic did not hold back.

Moving on, finally here are the top three worst health scares: The Spanish Flu (1918-1919), the Black Death Plague (1347-1351) and finally the Smallpox Pandemic (1877-1977). The Spanish Flu is theorized to have originated from France, England, China and the United States. Killing over 17-100 million people, the mortality rate is 2.5%. Moving on, the Black Death Plague possessed a death toll of around 75-200 million deaths, which spread through bugs. Finally, the population killer, the Smallpox Pandemic killed nearly 500 million people, affecting anyone through touching. People’s immunities were silenced as they could not fight this monster of a virus.

Come to think about it, viruses have been around since the beginning of time. Learning from history can only teach us to stay safe and convince the public to become annoyingly germophobic.