Third plague pandemic

Plague patient being injected by a doctor 1897 in Karachi.
Picture of Manchurian plague victims in 1899–1911

The third plague pandemic was a major bubonic plague pandemic that began in Yunnan, China, in 1855 during the fifth year of the Xianfeng Emperor of the Qing dynasty.[1] This episode of bubonic plague spread to all inhabited continents, and ultimately led to more than 12 million deaths in India and China[2] (and perhaps over 15 million worldwide[3]), with at least 10 million killed in India alone, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.[4][3][5] According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic was considered active until 1960, when worldwide casualties dropped to 200 per year.[6] Plague deaths have continued at a lower level for every year since.

The name[7] refers to this pandemic being the third major bubonic plague outbreak to affect European society. The first began with the Plague of Justinian, which ravaged the Byzantine Empire and surrounding areas in 541 and 542; the pandemic persisted in successive waves until the middle of the 8th century. The second began with the Black Death, which killed at least one third of Europe's population in a series of expanding waves of infection from 1346 to 1353; this pandemic recurred regularly until the 19th century.

Casualty patterns indicate that waves of this late-19th-century/early-20th-century pandemic may have come from two different sources. The first was primarily bubonic and was carried around the world through ocean-going trade, through transporting infected persons, rats, and cargoes harboring fleas. The second, more virulent strain, was primarily pneumonic in character with a strong person-to-person contagion. This strain was largely confined to Asia, in particular Manchuria and Mongolia.

  1. ^ Cohn, Samuel K. (2003). The Black Death Transformed: Disease and Culture in Early Renaissance Europe. A Hodder Arnold. p. 336. ISBN 0-340-70646-5.
  2. ^ "Plague deaths: Quarantine lifted after couple die of bubonic plague". BBC News. 2019-05-07. Retrieved 2021-08-28. In the 19th Century there was a plague outbreak in China and India, which killed more than 12 million.
  3. ^ a b Frith, John. "The History of Plague – Part 1. The Three Great Pandemics". Journal of Military and Veterans' Health. 20 (2). The third pandemic waxed and waned throughout the world for the next five decades and did not end until 1959, in that time plague had caused over 15 million deaths, the majority of which were in India.
  4. ^ Stenseth, Nils Chr (2008-08-08). "Plague Through History". Science. 321 (5890): 773–774. doi:10.1126/science.1161496. ISSN 0036-8075.
  5. ^ Sanburn, Josh (2010-10-26). "Top 10 Terrible Epidemics: The Third Plague Pandemic". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2021-01-01.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Frater, Jamie (2009). The Ultimate Book of Top Ten Lists: A Mind-Boggling Collection of Fun, Fascinating and Bizarre Facts on Movies, Music, Sports, Crime, Ce. Ulysses Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-56975-800-7.
  7. ^ Nicholas Wade (October 31, 2010). "Europe's Plagues Came From China, Study Finds". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-01. The great waves of plague that twice devastated Europe and changed the course of history had their origins in China, a team of medical geneticists reported Sunday, as did a third plague outbreak that struck less harmfully in the 19th century.

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