Major Disease Epidemics

Timeline created by clohse
In History
  • Diptheria in children

    A terrifying diphtheria epidemic swept through New England. In some cases, entire families died of the disease. In one New Hampshire town, 32% of children under 10 died of diphtheria. The case-fatality ratio was almost 40%.
  • Smallpox epidemic

    In South Carolina in 1738 there was a smallpox epidemic.
  • Measles

    In 1788 in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in New York City, a major outbreak of measles killed thousands.
  • Influenza

    Over 500 people died of influenza in one month in a small region of Virginia in 1793.
  • Cholera Epidemics Begin

    Cholera: The Pandemics Begin
    Beginning in 1817, a series of deadly cholera pandemics swept over India, Asia, and the rest of the world. Scholars usually refer to a wave of seven cholera pandemics, and generally describe them as occurring 1817-23, 1826-37, 1846-63, 1865-75, 1881-96, and 1902-23, and 1961-present
  • Typhus

    During 1837 the city of Philadelphia had an outbreak of typhus.
  • Yellow Fever

    Yellow Fever Cripples the Mississippi Valley
    Yellow fever killed more than 13,000 people in the lower Mississippi Valley. At the time, it was one of the worst medical disasters in U.S. history. The following year, a federal government commission investigated the disaster; Marine Hospital Service Surgeon General John Woodworth (1837-1879) reported to Congress that “Yellow fever should be dealt with as an enemy which imperils life and cripples commerce and industry.”
  • Smallpox Outbreak

    Low Vaccination Rates Lead to OutbreakA Muncie, Indiana, smallpox outbreak illustrated the effect of lower vaccination rates on the spread of disease. A local physician noted that vaccination there had been largely neglected since the last epidemic of smallpox in 1876.
    Despite measures that included a near-quarantine of the city, fumigation of mail, cancellation of public gatherings, and compulsory vaccination, the epidemic spread from May 1893 through October. In the end, 140 people cont
  • First U.S. Polio Epidemic

    The first major documented polio outbreak in the United States occurred in Rutland County, Vermont. Eighteen deaths and 132 cases of permanent paralysis were reported.
  • The Biologics Control Act

    The U.S. Congress passed "An act to regulate the sale of viruses, serums, toxins, and analogous products," later referred to as the Biologics Control Act (even though "biologics" appears nowhere in the law). This was the first modern federal legislation to control the quality of drugs. This act emerged in part as a response to the 1901 St. Louis and Camden contamination events.The Act created the Hygienic Laboratory of the U.S. Public Health Service to oversee manufacture of biological drugs.
  • North America Sees Last Yellow Fever Epidemic

    The last yellow fever epidemic on the North American continent occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Measles Continues to Spread in the U.S.

    Measles killed nearly 12,000 people in the United States in 1916, 75% of them younger than five years old.Estimates of the percentage of measles patients who suffer complications from the disease have ranged from 15% to as high as 30%. Serious complications include pneumonia, encephalitis, and corneal ulceration
  • Dallas Disaster

    Dozens of Dallas, Texas, children were sickened and five died from a contaminated batch of diphtheria toxin-antitoxin mixture (TAT). The TAT was manufactured by Mulford & Co., Philadelphia, and the company paid damages to the afflicted families.
  • Smallpox in Milwaukee

    In early 1925, a smallpox epidemic emerged in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The American Journal of Public Health reported that the epidemic resulted in 386 smallpox cases, of whom 87 people died (about 23%). Of the 386 cases, 327 had never been vaccinated, 46 had been vaccinated 10 or more years previously, 11 had been vaccinated more than 5 and less than 10 years previously, 2 had an uncertain vaccination history, and none had been vaccinated within the previous 5 years. Health workers performed about
  • Smallpox appeared for the final time in New York City.

    Eugene Le Bar, a merchant traveling from Mexico City to Maine with his wife, arrived in the city by bus, bringing the disease with him. Feeling ill, Le Bar went to Bellevue Hospital. Three days later he was transferred to the city’s contagious disease hospital. He died two days later.
  • Polio Cases Surge

    57,628 polio cases were reported in the United States in 1952, more than 21,000 of them paralytic cases. This epidemic heightened parents’ fears of the disease and focused public awareness on the need for a vaccine.
  • U.S. Rubella Outbreak Infects Millions

    despite warnings about keeping infected children away from pregnant women, nearly 50,000 women in vulnerable stages of their pregnancies were infected with rubella during the outbreak, leading to thousands of miscarriages and even more children being born with severe damage. At least 8,000 were born deaf, 3,500 deaf and blind; the total number of congenital rubella syndrome cases reached 20,000.
  • Yellow Fever Mosquito Reappears in South America

    South America was re-infested with Aedes aegypti. This, along with increasing air travel, led to fears of the reemergence of yellow fever epidemics in the American continents.
  • Cutaneous Diphtheria

    Cutaneous diphtheria is endemic in tropical regions. However, where immunization rates were low and in populations of indigent adults with poor community and personal hygiene, outbreaks could occur. Cutaneous diphtheria infections may co-exist with other types of infections. Antibiotics generally cure the infection. The CDC discontinued reporting cutaneous diphtheria cases around 1979.
  • Cholera: A Return to South America

    The scope of the epidemic was enormous: As a CDC report stated, “Because of underreporting, the more than 1,000,000 cholera cases and 10,000 deaths reported from Latin America through 1994 represent only a small fraction of the actual number of infections.” remain there for the next 10 years. Cholera returned to Haiti in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, possibly imported by foreign aid workers.
  • Diphtheria in the Russian Federation

    Declining diphtheria immunization among children and waning adult immunity led to an epidemic in the former Soviet Union. In 1994, the Russian Federation saw 39,703 diphtheria cases. In contrast, in 1990, there had been only 1,211 cases.
  • Imported Yellow Fever Cases Lead to American Deaths

    Officials later determined that the patient, prior to leaving for Venezuela, had been vaccinated against tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A, and malaria, but not yellow fever. Similarly, the only other U.S. fatality from yellow fever since 1924 was in 1996, when an unvaccinated Tennessee resident returning from a trip to Brazil died of the disease.
  • Pennsylvania and Minnesota Hib Outbreaks

    Seven cases of invasive Hib disease were reported in Pennsylvania during a six-month period starting in October 2008. Only one of the children had received a Hib vaccination (and had only received one of the recommended doses). Three of the children died. In Minnesota, five cases of invasive Hib disease in children younger than five were reported in 2008, with three of those cases in children whose parents had refused or deferred vaccination for the child. One of the children died
  • American Measles Outbreaks Increase

    From Jan. through Jul. 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of more than 130 cases of measles in the United States, the most cases in a year since 1996. Of these cases, more than 90% had not been vaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status.
    The WHO credits immunization efforts for a nearly 75% reduction in global measles deaths from 2000-2007, but it’s estimated that the disease still causes nearly 200,000 deaths each year.
  • Cholera in Haiti

    Cholera emerged in Haiti in the aftermath of January 12, 2010, earthquake there. Notably, cholera had not been reported in Haiti since 1960. Investigations of the epidemic suggest importation of cholera by infected aid workers. The bacteria likely spread through contaminated river drinking water. As of April 2011, 4,787 Haitians had died from cholera
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    Yellow Fever

    Yellow fever was one of the worst epidemics for most regions. The fatal disease was all across the United States in 1852 to 1853 and killed 8,000 citizens of New Orleans, Louisiana alone during the summer of 1853
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    In 1857 to 1859, one of the worst influenza epidemics affected people all across the world
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    It happened again in 1873 to 1875 with the death of thousands from influenza around the globe.
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    Influenza - Spanish Flu

    The last great influenza epidemic worldwide was in 1917 to 1919 during World War One. The disease sicken the normally healthy young adults and the very elderly, killing them within days. It was known as Spanish Flu.