Smallpox is one of the deadliest diseases of all time; however, because of the introduction of the highly effective smallpox vaccine, there have been no new recorded cases since 1977, per the records of the World Health Organization (the WHO). However, smallpox is so contagious and so deadly that, if placed in the wrong hands, it could be used as a biological weapon.
We are talking about millions dead. At its peak, smallpox killed over 30% of the people who contracted it. If you survived, you were left either blinded or with deep, painful scars. The virus spreads quickly through close contact, such as through inhaling the breath of an infected person, contact with infected bodily fluids, or an infected person’s items, like bedding or cloths. The only solace: the virus cannot last more than 48 hours outside of a human host.
The Spanish Flu
The worst part about the Spanish Flu is that is could easily happen again, especially in our ever-connected, global society.
In 1918, the Spanish Flu became one of the deadliest diseases of all time when it killed nearly 50 million people worldwide. To put this into perspective, when World War I ended, 37 million people (including both soldiers and civilians) were dead from the war, or the effects of the war.
This flu killed 13 million more people. By 1920, over 100 million were thought to be dead.
When caught, the Spanish Flu would give its victims a bluish hue as it sucked the oxygen from their bodies. It then filled their lungs with liquid, causing them to drown in agony. The flu was an equal opportunity killer – taking down not only children and the elderly, but also healthy young adults.
While the Spanish Flu was an exceptionally deadly disease, exponentially more so than the seasonal flu, medical professionals are hard at work to ensure it doesn’t strike again.
The Black Plague
Sometimes called the Black Plague, this medieval disease has never been fully eradicated, even with modern medical advances. From 1347 to 1350, it killed over 25 million Europeans (although some scholars clock the death toll much higher at nearly 75 million) – nearly a third of the population at the time.
The Plague is one of the deadliest diseases of all time and gets its name from the painful black boils it gives its victims. It is highly contagious and there is no known cure – some of the more modern strains of the plague are even drug-resistant, making them a major threat to global health.
There were 12 outbreaks of the Plague in Australia between 1900 and 1925 and a deadly outbreak in Madagascar in 2017, proving that it can strike anywhere, at anytime.