12 Epidemics People Thought Would Wipe Out The Human Race

Typhus fever in World War 1 (1945)

This disease is spread by lice. In the war conditions, there was poor sanitation that probably led to a greater density of lice, which meant that the transmission of typhus was more prevalent. During WW1, typhus caused three million deaths in Russia alone.

Cocolitzli epidemic (1576)

This “disease” refers to millions of deaths in the territory of New Spain, which is present-day Mexico. Cocolitzli refers to a collection of pests. The symptoms were very much the same as Ebola but included a dark tongue, jaundice and neck nodules.

Plague of Justinian (541-542)

This deadly pandemic affected the Eastern Roman Empire, specifically Constantinople and port cities along the Mediterranean sea. This pandemic was so severe, it killed off an estimated 25 million people, almost 13% of the world’s population. The plague returned in waves but was never as severe as this one. It was named after the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian, who ruled at the time. Necrosis of the limbs, as depicted in the image below, was one of the terrifying symptoms. 

 Antonine Plague (165-180 AD)

This disease was also known as the plague of Galen, and historians suspect that it could have been smallpox or measles. This disease claimed almost up to 2 000 deaths per day in Rome. The total death toll was tallied at about 5 million.

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