COVID-19: India’s Epidemic History Since the 1900s

The world has seen its fair share of distress and anguish. The history is too painful to remember but from time to time, a parallel conclusion has to be drawn from them. 

For instance, Let me take you to the history of Epidemics in India that has twisted the lives of people since the 1900s:

  • Spanish Flu (H1N1) (1918): The flu, caused by a lethal H1N1 virus with avian genes, killed 20 to 50 million people worldwide and 10 to 20 million in India.

  • Cholera Pandemic (1964): The Pandemic caused in 1961 in Indonesia by El Tor Strain of Bacterium Vibrio Cholerae, which reached India by 1964. Kolkata was the centre of Cholera due to its climate and location in the Gangetic Delta.

  • Smallpox Pandemic (1974): India recorded 60 per cent of cases in the world, claiming thousands of lives. WHO and Russia supplied India with free-dried smallpox vaccines. India was announced smallpox-free in March 1977.

  • Plague in Surat (1994): The pneumonic plague led to people fleeing the city which further led to the spread of the disease. The reasons were Open drains, Unsanitary garbage disposals, Dead rats lying in the open drains and Unclean distribution of piped water.

  • SARS (2002): Severely Acute Respiratory Syndrome that entered India in April 2003, which originated in Foshan, China. 

SARS was caused by a coronavirus, which spread through saliva. It was the first severe transmissible disease of the 21st Century. We can call it the Parent of COVID-19 which originated from Wuhan, China. 

  • Dengue and Chikungunya (2006): A mosquito-borne tropical disease, which hit India with several outbreaks. 

New Delhi reported the highest no. of cases of Dengue while Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra were struck badly by Chikungunya.  

  • Swine Flu (H1N1) (2014): Spanish Flu which was an outbreak of H1N1 flu was back with Swine Flu with H1N1 Influenza Virus. Indian states like Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Telangana were hit hard in 2014. 

The first case was verified and documented in May 2009. Over 33,000 cases and 2,000 deaths were confirmed in March 2015 by the Indian Health Ministry. 

  • Encephalitis (2017): Gorakhpur has recorded the first case of Japanese Encephalitis(JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). 

It was caused due to mosquito bites which result in inflammation of the brain which can be deadly. Since 1978, the viral disease has taken the lives of more than 25,000 children in India.

  • Nipah Virus(NiV) (2018): The infection originated from Fruit Bats in Kerala in May 2018. The virus killed 17 people in Kerala. Currently, there are no licensed treatments for NiV Infection. 

The most deadly virus ever to hit India is COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The virus has resulted in 3.77 lakh deaths with 3,000 deaths recorded every day. Many outbreaks have been eradicated from India, but COVID-19 still exists in India and other areas of the world.

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