25 Deadliest Diseases in Human History

Posted by , Updated on February 7, 2019

As violent as we can be towards one another, throughout history, the biggest executioner of the human race has been deadly disease. Whether it was the Black Death in 14th century Europe or Ebola in present day Africa, the loss of human life and cost to society has been astronomical. These are the 25 deadliest diseases in human history.

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This infection of the small intestine is transmitted primarily by drinking water or eating food containing the feces of an infected person. Worldwide, about 5 million people are affected and over 100,000 die from Cholera every year.



small pox

After the vaccination campaigns of the 20th century, smallpox has become one of two infectious diseases that have been declared as completely eradicated (the other being rinderpest). However, prior to vaccination, small pox claimed an estimated 500 million lives in just the 20th century alone.


Yellow Fever

yellow fever mosquito

Transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes, this disease is found in Africa and South America. It typically involves fever, chills, anorexia, nausea, muscle pain (with prominent backache) and headache, but in most cases subsides after several days. Due to warfare and social disruption across Africa, there has seen a resurgence since the ’80s.




Usually attacking the lungs, this disease is spread by airborne saliva. The classic symptoms of active tuberculosis infection are a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Today some estimates put nearly one third of world down as having some form of tuberculosis.



spanish flu

Commonly known as the flu, influenza is usually transmitted through the air like tuberculosis but sometimes through direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Because the virus can be inactivated by soap, however, frequent hand washing reduces the risk of infection.

Photo: Featured Image - shutterstock, 1. National Library of Medicine via flickr (Public Domain), 2. shutterstock, 3. Wellcome Trust, Back of female with measles Wellcome L0032962, CC BY 4.0 , 4. Wellcome Trust, Leprosy, plate LXX from Prince Albert Morrow, 1889 Wellcome L0074345, CC BY 4.0 , 5. max pixel (Public Domain), 6. shutterstock, 7. ConstructionDealMkting via flickr, Stroke Diagram, CC BY 2.0, 8. James Heilman, MD, PneumonisWedge09, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 9. picryl (Public Domain), 10. www.army.mil (Public Domain), 11. shutterstock, 12. Blausen Medical Communications, Inc., Blausen 0463 HeartAttack, CC BY 3.0 , 13. max pixel (Public Domain), 14. shutterstock, 15. Shpernik088, Avian influenza roee shpernik 07, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 16. pixabay (Public Domain), 17. internet archive book images via flickr (Public Domain), 18. Ernest F, HumanNewborn, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 19. pixabay (Public Domain), 20. max pixel (Public Domain), 21. (Image: courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., United States.), Spanish flu hospital, CC BY 2.5 , 22. picryl (Public Domain), 23. public domain files (Public Domain), 24. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 25. Wellcome Trust, Disposal of dead bodies during the cholera epidemic of 1835 Wellcome V0010486, CC BY 4.0

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