face mask used by patients with coronavirus

Pandemics Throughout History

With the continued spread of the coronavirus, many people are wondering if this disease has officially been labeled a pandemic. This post will go over what a pandemic is and provide a brief history of pandemics throughout history.

What Is A Pandemic?

When discussing the spread of a disease, there are three potential scenarios:


An outbreak means that there are an unusual number of patients diagnosed with a disease, however, that number is relatively small. Essentially, the number is slightly higher than expected.

So, if there are 100 people in an office and a stomach bug impacts those who work there, with 15 people ultimately being diagnosed with that virus, this would be considered an outbreak.


An epidemic has spread outside of the area of origin and is impacting a larger geographic area.

So, if the stomach bug left the original office location and began to impact people in surrounding buildings, homes, and cities, this would be considered an epidemic.


A pandemic occurs when a disease spreads internationally and is essentially spreading out of control.

Considering the fact that COVID-19 has now been found in at least 25 countries, many health professionals have named it a pandemic. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not, simply because officials are still hoping that the disease can be contained and the full impact of the disease cannot yet be determined.

” The threat of a pandemic has become very real,” stated the Director General of WHO.

Pandemics Throughout History

Pandemics have been impacting the human population for all of history. Here are a few historical examples of pandemics.

The Antonine Plague

This plague had a serious impact on Roman culture and literature and took place between 165 – 180 AD. Historians believe that the outbreak was either smallpox or measles and ancient records show that at the worst point, nearly 2,000 people died a day in Rome.

In many areas, the population was reduced by 1/3 because of this plague. Historians believe a total of 5 million people died.

The Plague Of Justinian

This plague started in 541 AD but continued to recur for more than 200 years, until 750! The plague was centered in the Byzantine Empire and historians confirmed through DNA testing in 2013 that it was the bubonic plague.

With this knowledge, it is clear that the disease was continuously spread by merchant ships carrying flea-infested rats.

It is estimated that this plague killed nearly 25% of the world’s population and had serious cultural and social impacts.

The Black Death

The Black Death pandemic occurred between 1346 and 1353, killing more than 20 million people. Like the Justinian Plague, The Black Death was caused by the bubonic plague and was transferred from port to port by rats.

Flu Pandemic

There have been several Flu Pandemics, including:

  • 1889-1890
  • 1918
  • 1956-1958
  • 1968

The flu has killed millions of people worldwide.

Staying Safe While Coronavirus Spreads

There are a few steps that anyone can take during this time:

  1. Don’t Panic
  2. Wash Your Hands Regularly
  3. Avoid Contact With Anyone Who Is Ill
  4. Seek Medical Care As Soon As You Feel Ill

If possible, work from home and cancel any travel plans that you may have.