Top 10 epidemics by death toll


The current locust outbreak in Egypt can easily be regarded as one of the Biblical plagues. Severe locust outbreaks can eventually lead to famine. In this list we’ll examine plagues of epidemic proportions. What are the worst epidemics the world has experienced by number of casualties?

Although our knowledge and medical understanding of diseases has increased, there’s still a growing fear for outbreaks of influenza. Currently aids is claiming the lives of many and as long as there is no affordable medicine the number of deaths caused by the HIV pandemic will continue to grow. Infectious diseases rarely result in an epidemic or even worse, a pandemic, but they can be transmitted by insects, rats, birds or by contaminated drinking water. But which of the epidemics were the worst? Here’s a quick top 10 epidemics by (estimated) death toll!

Top 10 epidemics by death toll

  1. Russian Flu/influenza, worldwide, 1889-1890 – about 1,000,000 casualties
  2. Third Cholera Pandemic, Russia, 1852-1860 – more than 1,000,000 casualties
  3. Sixth Cholera Pandemic, Europe, Africa, Asia, 1899-1923 – 1,500,000 casualties
  4. Asian Flu/influenza, worldwide, 1957-1958 – 2,000,000 casualties
  5. Antonine Plague/smallpox, Roman Empire, 165-180 – 5,000,000 casualties
  6. Third Pandemic/Bubonic plague, China & India, 1855-1959, 12,000,000 casualties
  7. Plague of Justiane/Bubonic plague, Eastern Roman Empire, 541-542 – 25,000,000 casualties
  8. HIV/AIDS pandemic, worldwide, ongoing from 1981 – 25,000,000 casualties
  9. Spanish Flu/influenza, worldwide from 1918 to 1920 – 75,000,000 casualties
  10. Black Death/Bubonic plague struck Europe and Asia from 1338 to 1350 – 100,000,000 casualties

NB Malaria is probably the number 1 epidemic in death toll with more than a 1 million people killed every year. Records however aren’t accurate


We recommend:
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World