Today the world is dealing with the crisis of the Ebola disease. This is likely the largest outbreak in history for this particular disease. If an epidemic affects a whole country or spreads over the world, it is called a pandemic. Ebola is not yet a pandemic, but the potential does exist.
While it is necessary to take wise precautions in areas affected and those who deal with patients, we need to understand a historical perspective on diseases.
· 541-542 AD – 100,000,000 died from Plague of Justinian
· 1346-1350 AD – 50,000,000 died from Black Plague
· 1969 to present – 39,000,000 died from AIDS/HIV
· 1918-1920 – 20,000,000 died from Influenza
· 1894-1903 – 10,000,000 Modern Plague
· 1957-1958 – 2,000,000 Asian Flu
· 1968-1969 – 1,000,000 Hong Kong Flu
· 2009 – 284,000 Swine Flu
· 2002-2003 – 774 SARS[i]
While this is just a small list of killer diseases in history, we can see that human history has been unable to eradicate sicknesses that kill. Every generation has had its theories and science to try and prevent the spread. In many cases, we are able to protect and prevent. But, new ones appear in time.
The history of civilization is also a history of disease. Every generation lives with the fear of death from unseen biological enemies. We are able to eliminate some diseases, but we are not able to eliminate the fear of death.