Whether it’s smallpox, polio, or COVID-19, several pandemics have threatened the United States throughout its history. These pandemics in US history have brought fear, paranoia, and hysteria to US soil. They have threatened the way of life for those living in the pandemic era and caused heartache, financial loss, and death. Let’s look at the individual characteristics, severities, and damage of each pandemic.
Spreading from European soil to the new world, Smallpox ravished European, American, and Native American populations. Chills, intense fever, rashes, and continued back pain were common symptoms. Out of Boston’s population of 11,000, approximately 6,000 individuals contracted the disease in 1721. Of those 6,000 cases, 800 died. The eradication of the disease occurred in 1972 and today, vaccines are not even necessary. Smallpox no longer poses a threat throughout the world.
Yellow Fever, which killed 10 percent of Philadelphia’s population in 1793, is frequently spread by mosquitoes. Eliminating the onslaught of mosquitoes by controlled spraying has allowed for control of the pandemic. However, Yellow Fever still afflicts several countries in South America, Central America, and Africa. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has produced a list of countries that American travelers shouldn’t visit without getting vaccinated against yellow fever.
The polio epidemic peaked in the United States in the 1950’s. In 1952, the country reported about 50,000 cases. And sadly, over 3,000 people died. Luckily, an approval for a vaccine to fight the virus occurred in 1955. Since the start of this vaccine, the United States has been almost completely clear of the virus. Now, CDC reports show that the last known case on American soil occurred in 1979.
H1N1 (Swine Flu)
Spreading in 2009, H1N1 produced rather intense flu symptoms in infected people. Over 12,000 people died from the disease in the United States. Those under the age of 65 accounted for about 80 percent of the 12,000 deaths. New strains of influenza circulate among citizens of the United States every year. Get a flu shot every flu season in order to stay well.
The latest pandemic to land on American soil, Covid-19, or the SARS-CoV-2 virus, affected over 1.5 million people in the United States. Although it was first reported in China in late 2019, Covid-19 did not become a pandemic until March of 2020. Currently, there is still no vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus. Primary symptoms of the virus include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Even though COVID-19 is not the deadliest or first pandemic to ravage the United States, it has definitely been hard on the American public. Used to a comfortable way of life and a booming economy, COVID-19 came in and drastically changed life as we know it.
America is strong, and the people of this country have taken much with stride. Thus, they won’t let a virus keep them down. Pandemics in US history are commonplace. Viruses travel from place to place and person to person. Practicing good hygiene is a vital part of stopping the spread and preventing future pandemics from occurring.