How 5 of History’s Worst Pandemics Finally Ended

As human civilizations flourish, so do infectious diseases. Large numbers of people living near each other and animals, often poorly sanitized and malnourished, provided fertile breeding grounds for the disease. And new trade routes abroad have spread the new infections on a large scale, creating the first global pandemics.

Here’s how five of the world’s worst pandemics finally ended.

1. Justinian’s plague – there is no one left to die

Yersinia pestis

Yersinia pestis, formerly pasteurella pestis, was the bacteria responsible for the plague. Here we see it under X 1000 light microscopy.

Three of the deadliest pandemics in history were caused by a single bacteria, Yersinia pestis, a deadly infection otherwise known as the plague.

Justinian’s plague arrived in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 541 CE. It was transported over the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt, a recently conquered land paying homage to the Emperor Justinian in grain. Plague-infested fleas hitched a ride on black rats that nibbled on the grain.

The plague decimated Constantinople and spread like wildfire across Europe, Asia, North Africa and Arabia, killing around 30 to 50 million people, perhaps half of world population.

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