Epidemics And Pandemics Throughout History Essay

2351 words - 9 pages

When looking back on history, it is evident to see that humans by nature are warriors. Humans often find themselves fighting mysterious battles against disguised enemies. Throughout history the earth has been afflicted with mysterious diseases, which tend to invisibly cause the preponderance of civilizations to perish. The evolution of infectious diseases has and always will provide challenges for humankind (Hoff, Smith, and Calisher 6-7). Over the course of time, humans gradually developed a preference to live in large urban settings. Urbanization and the cross-cultural interaction of civilizations have both strongly provoked widespread illness, which is known as an epidemic or pandemic based upon size. An epidemic is when a common disease affects a large number of people within a particular region (Lamb). A pandemic is similar to an epidemic but is even more widespread than an epidemic, and spreads throughout entire continents or even the world. Despite the slight variation in meaning, most pandemics are interchangeably denoted as epidemics (Friendlander 13-14). Epidemics and pandemics have formed the course of human history by inflicting lifestyle alterations and abruptly killing large masses of people. When one thinks of widespread disease it is easy to think that pandemics and epidemics are things of the past. Unfortunately, epidemics are commonly found today in poorer countries and major pandemics are still on the rise, such as the modern disease AIDS (Lampton 12-15). Nonetheless, epidemics and pandemics affect large portions of the world’s population; thus, these ongoing diseases will always influence the history of mankind because they force transformation amongst even the strongest civilizations.
When looking back on world history, it is evident to see that epidemics are common around the world, however some grow to be more severe than others and are classified as pandemics. The first pandemic in recorded history took place over 2,500 years ago in ancient Athens. Thucydides, a Greek historian and Athenian general describes The Plague of Athens in his work The History of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides states that The Plague of Athens struck in 430 B.C.E. during the Peloponnesian Wars. During this time Athens was at war with Sparta. After soldiers returned home from war in the winter, mysterious disease followed them. During the Peloponnesian Wars the epidemic obliterated much of the Greek population. The History of the Peloponnesian War is a primary source that exemplifies the horror and possibility of armies unknowingly bringing communicable diseases back to their own people, and causing more casualties than the actual war itself. Thucydides describes that the victims of the Plague of Athens experienced a fever, inflammation, redness in the skin, and felt that their body was burning from the inside out. He states that many would suffer for seven to nine days and attempt to relieve the burning inside their body by going outside to...

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