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Flu pandemic (1968)

Death Toll: 1 million Cause: Influenza A category 2 Flu pandemic sometimes referred to as “the Hong Kong Flu,” the 1968 flu pandemic was caused by the H3N2 strain of the Influenza A virus, a genetic offshoot of the H2N2 subtype. From the first reported case on July 13, 1968 in Hong Kong, it took only 17 days before outbreaks of the virus were reported in Singapore and Vietnam, and within three months had spread to The Philippines, India, Australia, Europe, and the United States. While the 1968 pandemic had a comparatively low mortality rate (.5%) it still resulted in the deaths of more than a million people, including 500,000 residents of Hong Kong, approximately 15% of its population at the time.

10 deadliest pandemics in history

A pandemic is defined as the widespread occurrence of disease, in excess of what might normally be expected in a geographical region.

Cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox, and influenza are some of the most brutal killers in human history. And outbreaks of these diseases across international borders, are further defined as pandemic, especially smallpox, which through history, has killed between 300-500 million people in its 12,000 year existence.

The most recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, which has killed thousands of people, is still confined to West Africa. It may someday be pandemic, but for now, is considered an epidemic — and is therefore not included in this list.

However, the rapid spread of Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, around the world is undoubtedly a pandemic, as has been declared by World Health Organisation. 119 countries and territories around the world have reported a total of 119,294 confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 that originated from Wuhan, China, and a death toll of 4,300 deaths.

As the world battles to find a vaccine to prevent the spread of the current epidemic, here’s a look at some of the worst pandemics ever.


(Images: Getty; Info: MPHonline)