Pandemics

Pandemics

HISTORY.com is covering a range of angles about pandemics of the past to help frame the Covid-19 crisis.

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Pandemics That Changed History

In the realm of infectious diseases, a pandemic is the worst case scenario. When an epidemic spreads beyond a country’s borders, that’s when the disease officially becomes a pandemic. Communicable diseases existed during humankind’s hunter-gatherer days, but the shift to agrarian ...read more

Woodrow Wilson, Why The Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly

Why the Second Wave of the 1918 Spanish Flu Was So Deadly

The horrific scale of the 1918 influenza pandemic—known as the "Spanish flu"—is hard to fathom. The virus infected 500 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims—that’s more than all of the soldiers and civilians killed during World War I ...read more

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How 5 of History’s Worst Pandemics Finally Ended

As human civilizations flourished, so did infectious disease. Large numbers of people living in close proximity to each other and to animals, often with poor sanitation and nutrition, provided fertile breeding grounds for disease. And new overseas trading routes spread the novel ...read more

How the Black Death Spread Along the Silk Road

How the Black Death Spread Along the Silk Road

The Silk Road, a network of land and sea trade routes that connected China and the Far East with Europe from 130 B.C. to 1453 A.D., became a vital source for everything from fabric and leather goods to spices and precious stones. It connected communities and allowed them to share ...read more