Timeline of plague
|Time period||Key developments|
|3500–3000 BC (circa)||In 2018 a Swedish tomb was excavated and discovered to harbor evidence of Yersinia pestis within the interred human remains. The estimated date of this individual's death is correlated to a period of European history known as the Neolithic decline; the presence of plague in the remains is evidence for the plague as a potential cause of this event.|
|541–750 (circa)||The first plague pandemic spreads from Egypt to the Mediterranean (starting with the Plague of Justinian) and Northwestern Europe.|
|1346–1840||The second plague pandemic spreads from China (questionable) to the Mediterranean and Europe. The Black Death of 1346–1353 is considered to be unparalleled in human history. From 1347 to 1665, the Black Death is responsible for about a billion deaths in Europe.|
|1866–1960s||The third plague pandemic, which originated in China, results in about 2.2 million deaths. The plague spread to India and killed a total of 22.5 million people under the British rule. Haffkine develops the first vaccine against bubonic plague. Antibiotic drugs are developed in the 1940s which dramatically reduce the death rate from plague.|
|1950–2000||Plague cases are massively reduced during the second half of the 20th century. However, outbreaks would still occur, especially in developing countries. Between 1954 and 1997, human plague is reported in 38 countries, making the disease a remerging threat to human health. Also, between 1987 and 2001, 36,876 confirmed cases of plague with 2,847 deaths are reported to the World Health Organization.|
|Recent years||Int the 21st century, fewer than 200 people die of the plague worldwide each year, mainly due to lack of treatment. Plague is considered to be endemic in 26 countries around the world, with most cases found in remote areas of Africa. The three most endemic countries are Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru.|
Graphs of modern outbreaksEdit
Cases of human plague for the period 1994–2003 in countries that reported at least 100 confirmed or suspected cases. Case-fatality rates in % are represented on the left vertical.
Plague cases reported in Americas to the World Health Organization for the period 1954–1986. Cumulative.
Plague cases reported in Asia to the World Health Organizations for the period 1954–1986. Cumulative.
Plague cases reported to the World Health Organization by continent. Cumulative.
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|Year/Period||Event type||Event||Present-day geographic location|
|430 BC||Epidemic||Plague of Athens devastates the city's population. The outbreak originated in Ethiopia and spread to the Mediterranean region through Egypt and Libya.||Greece, Mediterranean basin|
|224 BC||Plague infection is first recorded in China.||China|
|165–180 AD||Epidemic||Antonine Plague, also known as the plague of Galen, the Greek physician living in the Roman Empire who described it. It is suspected to have been smallpox or measles. The total deaths have been estimated at five million and the disease killed as much as one-third of the population in some areas and devastated the Roman army.||Iraq, Italy, France, Germany|
|250–270 AD||Epidemic||Plague of Cyprian breaks out in Rome. It is estimated to kill about 5000 people a day.||Italy|
|540 AD||Epidemic||Plague epidemic originates in Ethiopia spreads to Pelusium in Egypt.||Ethiopia, Egypt|
|541–542 AD||Epidemic||The Plague of Justinian, considered the first recorded pandemic, breaks out and develops as an extended epidemic in the Mediterranean basin. According to some, frequent outbreaks over the next two hundred years would eventually kill an estimated 25 million people. This number has recently been disputed.||Mediterranean Basin|
|542 AD||Epidemic||The plague arrives in Constantinople (now Istanbul). By spring of 542, about 5,000 deaths per day in the city are calculated, although some estimates vary to 10,000 per day. The epidemic would go on to kill over a third of the city's population.||Turkey|
|543 AD||Epidemic||After passing from Italy to Syria, Palestine, and Iraq, plague reaches Iran.||Iran|
|627 AD||Epidemic||A large epidemic of plague breaks out in Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sasanian Empire, killing more than 100,000 people.||Iran|
|1334||Epidemic||The second plague pandemic breaks out in China (questionable). Widely known as the "Black Death" or the Great Plague, it is regarded as one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia.||Eurasia|
|1338–1339||Bubonic plague is reported in central Asia.|
|1345||Plague occurs in southern Russia, around the lower Volga River basin.||Russia|
|1346||Epidemic||Bubonic plague breaks out in India (questionable).||China, India|
|1347||Epidemic||The plague spreads to Constantinople, a major port city. It also infects the Black Sea port of Kaffa down from southern Russia.||Turkey, Ukraine|
|1347||Epidemic||Italian traders bring the plague in rat-infested ships from Constantinople to Sicily, which becomes the first place in Europe to suffer the Black death epidemic. The same year, Venice is also hit.||Italy|
|1347–1350||Medical development||During the 1347–1350 outbreak, doctors are completely unable to prevent or cure the plague. Some of the cures they try include cooked onions, ten-year-old treacle, arsenic, crushed emeralds, sitting in the sewers, sitting in a room between two enormous fires, fumigating the house with herbs, trying to stop God punishing the sick for their sin. Flagellants would go on processions whipping themselves.|
|1348||Medical development||Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio in his book Decameron writes a description of symptoms of the plague.||Italy|
|1348–1350||Epidemic||The Black Death arrives at Melcombe Regis in the south of England. Over the next year, the plague spreads into Northern England, Wales and Ireland. By 1350, the plague reaches Scotland. The estimated death toll for the British Isles is calculated at 3.2 million.||United Kingdom, Ireland|
|1349||Genocide||Black Death Jewish persecutions. A rumor rises claiming that Jews are responsible for the plague as an attempt to kill Christians and dominate the world. Supported by a widely distributed report of the trial of Jews who supposedly had poisoned wells in Switzerland, the rumor spreads quickly. As a result, a wave of pogroms against Jews breaks out. Christians start to attack Jews in their communities, burning their homes, and murder them with clubs and axes. In the Strasbourg massacre, it is estimated that people locked up and burned 900 Jews alive. Finally, Pope Clement VI issues a religious order to stop the violence against the Jews, claiming that the plague is "the result of an angry God striking at the Christian people for their sins."||France, Switzerland|
|1351||Epidemic||Black Death epidemic reaches Russia, attacking Novgorod and reaching Pskov, before being temporarily suppressed by the Russian winter.||Russia|
|1352||Epidemic||The plague reaches Moscow.||Russia|
|1361–1364||Medical development||During an outbreak, doctors learn how to help the patient recover by bursting the buboes.|
|1374||Epidemic||Black Death epidemic re-emerges in Europe. In Venice, various public health controls such as isolating victims from healthy people and preventing ships with disease from landing at port are instituted.||Europe|
|1377||Program launch||The Republic of Ragusa establishes a landing station for vessels far from the city and harbour in which travellers suspected to have the plague must spend thirty days, to see whether they became ill and died or whether they remained healthy and could leave.||Croatia|
|1403||After finding thirty days isolation to be too short, Venice dictates that travellers from the Levant in the eastern Mediterranean be isolated in a hospital for forty days, the quarantena or quaranta giorni, from which the term quarantine is derived.||Italy|
|1582–1583||Epidemic||A new outbreak of bubonic plague occurs, in the Canary Islands, mainly affecting the city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna on the island of Tenerife. Between 5,000 and 9,000 people die, a considerable number considering that the population of the island at the time was less than 20,000 inhabitants.||Spain|
|1629–1631||Epidemic||The Italian plague of 1629–1631 develops as a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague. About 280,000 people are estimated to be killed in Lombardy and other territories of Northern Italy. The Italian plague is estimated to have claimed between 35 and 69 percent of the local population.||Italy|
|1637||Epidemic||Plague breaks out in Andalusia, killing about 20,000 people in less than four months.||Spain|
|1647–1652||Epidemic||Plague ravages Spain. About 30,000 die in Valencia. The great Plague of Seville breaks out.||Spain|
|1665–1666||Epidemic||Great Plague of London. 100,000 people are killed within 18 months.||United Kingdom|
|1679||Epidemic||The Great Plague of Vienna kills at least 76,000 people.||Austria|
|1720||Epidemic||The Great Plague of Marseille kills more than 100,000 people in the French city of Marseille.||Marseille, France|
|1722||Publication||Daniel Defoe publishes A Journal of the Plague Year, a fictional account of the Great Plague of London in 1665. This novel is often read as non-fiction.||United Kingdom|
|1738||Epidemic||Great Plague of 1738 kills at least 36,000 people.||Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Austria|
|1772–1850||Epidemic||The human plague is reported intermittently in the Chinese province of Yunnan, where the third plague pandemic would begin in the 1860s.||China|
|1867||Epidemic||The plague spreads from Yunnan Province to Beihai on the Chinese coastline.||China|
|1869||Epidemic||The plague is observed in Taiwan.||Taiwan|
|1894||Epidemic||The plague spreads to Guangdong and results in the death of about 70,000 people.||China|
|1894||Scientific development||Working independently, both French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin and Japanese bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato isolate the bacterium that causes bubonic plague. Yersin discovers that rodents are the mode of infection. The bacterium is named yersinia pestis after Yersin.|
|1896–1897||Medical development||Russian bacteriologist Waldemar Haffkine successfully protects rabbits against an inoculation of virulent plague microbes, by treating them previously with a subcutaneous injection of a culture of the microbes in broth. The first vaccine for bubonic plague is developed. The rabbits treated in this way become immune to plague. In the next year, Haffkine causes himself to be inoculated with a similar preparation, thus proving in his own person the harmlessness of the fluid. This is considered the first vaccine against bubonic plague.||India (Bombay)|
|1899||Epidemic||Plague is first introduced in Latin America in Paraguay, followed by Brazil and Argentina in the same year.||Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina|
|1901||Epidemic||Plague infection is first reported in Uruguay.||Uruguay|
|1902||Epidemic||Plague infection is first reported in Mexico.||Mexico|
|1903||Epidemic||Plague infection is first reported in Chile and Peru.||Chile, Peru|
|1905||Epidemic||Plague infection is first reported in Panama.||Panama|
|1908||Epidemic||Plague infection is first reported in Ecuador and Venezuela.||Ecuador, Venezuela|
|1910||Epidemic||Manchurian plague breaks out, killing about 60,000 people over the course of a year.||China|
|1912||Epidemic||Plague infection is first reported in Cuba and Puerto Rico.||Cuba, Puerto Rico|
|1921||Epidemic||Plague infection is first reported in Bolivia.||Bolivia|
|1924–1925||Epidemic||Plague breaks out in Los Angeles. 32 people get infected and only 2 survive. It is the last rat-borne epidemic occurring in the United States.||United States|
|1928||Medical development||Antibiotics developed||United Kingdom|
|1947||Publication||French novelist Albert Camus publishes The Plague, a novel about a fictional outbreak of plague in Oran, Algeria. The book helps to show the effects the plague has on a populace.||France|
|1994||Epidemic||Plague in India. The country experiences a large outbreak of pneumonic plague after 30 years with no reports of the disease. 693 suspected bubonic or pneumonic plague cases are reported.||India|
|2003||Epidemic||An outbreak of plague is reported in Algeria, in an area considered plague-free for 50 years.||Algeria|
|2014||Epidemic||Outbreak in Madagascar|
|2006||Epidemic||100 cases of suspected pneumonic plague, including 19 deaths, are reported in Orientale Province, Congo.||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|2006||Epidemic||13 cases, with two deaths, are reported in the states of New Mexico, Colorado, California, and Texas.||United States|
|2009||Infection||Plague is reported in Libya, after 25 years without a case of the disease.||Libya|
|2013||Infection||A case of bubonic plague is reported in a region of Kyrgyzstan bordering Kazakhstan.||Kyrgyzstan|
|2013||Infection||783 cases of plague are reported worldwide in 2013, including 126 deaths.|
|2014||Scientific development||Researchers at Duke University School of Medicine and Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore find the Yersinia pestis bacteria to hitchhike on immune cells in the lymph nodes and eventually ride into the lungs and the blood stream, thus spreading bubonic plague effectively to others.||Singapore|
|2017||Epidemic||Outbreak in Madagascar|
|2019||Infection||A couple in Mongolia die from Bubonic Plague after eating the raw kidney of a rodent—a folk remedy for good health. Others were quarantined to avoid it spreading.||Mongolia|
|1984||Infection||On August 31, 1984, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a case of pneumonic plague in Claremont, California. The CDC believed that the patient, a veterinarian, had contracted plague from a stray cat. As the cat wasn't available for necropsy, this could not be ultimately confirmed.|
|1995-1998||Epidemic||From 1995 to 1998, annual outbreaks of plague were witnessed in Mahajanga, Madagascar.|
|2002||Epidemic||In February 2002, a small outbreak of pneumonic plague took place in the Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh state in northern India.|
|2002||Infection||In November 2002, a New Mexico couple contracted bubonic plague while visiting New York after being bitten by infected fleas in their home state. Both were treated by antibiotics, but the man developed septicemic plague which required amputation of both legs below the knee, due to gangrene caused by the lack of blood flow. After a medically-induced three-month coma, the patient survived.|
|2006||Infection||On April 19, 2006, CNN News and others reported a case of plague in Los Angeles, California, the first reported case in that city since 1984.|
|2006||Animal||In May 2006, KSL Newsradio reported a case of plague found in dead field mice and chipmunks at Natural Bridges National Monument about 40 miles (64 km) west of Blanding in San Juan County, Utah.|
|2006||Animal||In May 2006, Arizona media reported a case of plague found in a cat.|
|2006||Epidemic||In June 2006, one hundred deaths resulting from pneumonic plague were reported in Ituri district of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Control of the plague was proving difficult due to the ongoing conflict.|
|2006||Accident||It was reported in September 2006 that three mice infected with Yersinia pestis apparently disappeared from a laboratory belonging to the Public Health Research Institute, located on the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which conducts anti-bioterrorism research for the United States government.|
|2007||Animal||On May 16, 2007, an 8-year-old hooded capuchin monkey in the Denver Zoo died of the bubonic plague. Five squirrels and a rabbit were also found dead on zoo grounds and tested positive for the disease.|
|2007||Infection||On June 5, 2007, in Torrance County, New Mexico, a 58-year-old woman developed bubonic plague, which progressed to pneumonic plague.|
|2007||Infection||On November 2, 2007, Eric York, a 37-year-old wildlife biologist for the National Park Service's Mountain Lion Conservation Program and The Felidae Conservation Fund, was found dead in his home at Grand Canyon National Park. On October 27, York performed a necropsy on a mountain lion that had likely perished from the disease, and three days afterward York complained of flu-like symptoms and called in sick from work. He was treated at a local clinic but was not diagnosed with any serious ailment. The discovery of his death sparked a minor health scare, with officials stating he likely died of either plague or hantavirus, and 49 people who had come into contact with York were given aggressive antibiotic treatments. None of them fell ill. Autopsy results released on November 9, confirmed the presence of Y. pestis in his body, confirming plague as a likely cause of death.|
|2008||Epidemic||In January 2008, at least 18 people died of bubonic plague in Madagascar.|
|2009||Epidemic||On June 16, 2009, Libyan authorities reported an outbreak of bubonic plague in Tobruk, Libya. 16-18 cases were reported, including one death.|
|2009||Epidemic||On August 2, 2009, Chinese authorities quarantined the town of Ziketan, Xinghai County in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province (Northwestern China) after an outbreak of pneumonic plague. As of this writing, three have died and ten more are ill, being treated in hospital.[needs update]|
|2009||Accident||On September 13, 2009, Dr. Malcolm Casadaban died following an accidental laboratory exposure to an attenuated strain of the plague bacterium. This was due to his undiagnosed hereditary hemochromatosis (iron overload). He was an associate professor of molecular genetics and cell biology and of microbiology at the University of Chicago.|
|2010||Epidemic||On 1 July 2010, eight cases of Bubonic plague were reported in humans in the District of Chicama, Peru. One 32-year-old man was affected, as well as three boys and four girls ranging in age from 8 to 14 years old. 425 houses were fumigated and 1210 guinea pigs, 232 dogs, 128 cats and 73 rabbits were given anti flea treatment in an effort to stop the epidemic.|
|2012||Animal||On May 3, 2012, a ground squirrel trapped during routine testing at a popular campground on Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, California tested positive for the plague bacteria.|
|2012||Infection||On June 2, 2012, a man in Crook County, Oregon, attempting to rescue a cat choking on a mouse, was bitten and became infected with septicemic plague.|
|2013||Animal||On July 16, 2013, a squirrel trapped in the Table Mountain Campgrounds of Angeles National Forest tested positive for the plague, prompting a health advisory and the closing of the campground while investigators tested other squirrels and dusted the area for plague-infected fleas.|
|2013||Infection||On August 26, 2013, Temir Isakunov, a teenage boy, died of bubonic plague in northern Kyrgyzstan.|
|2013||Epidemic||December 2013 reports of pneumonic plague epidemic in 5 of 112 districts of Madagascar, believed to be caused by large brush fires forcing rats into towns.|
|2014||Infection||On July 13, 2014, a Colorado man was diagnosed with pneumonic plague.|
|2014||Epidemic||On July 22, 2014, the city of Yumen, China, was sealed off and 151 people were put in quarantine after a man died of bubonic plague.|
|2014||Epidemic||On November 21, 2014, the World Health Organization reported that there have been 40 deaths and 80 others infected on the island of Madagascar, with the first known case in the outbreak thought to have occurred in late August 2014.|
|2015||Animal||On May 22, 2015, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported finding plague in dead ground squirrels in 24 places south of Boise in a roughly circular area about 45 miles (72 km) across. On May 27, 2016, the department reported more ground squirrels dead of plague in about the same area. By December six cats— five from the Boise area, which is in southwestern Idaho, and one in the southeastern part of the state— were found to have plague. Four of the cats died; the other two recovered with antibiotic treatment. No human cases were reported. Health authorities warned people to stay out of the affected area and issued advice about preventing contagion in people and pets.[needs update]|
|2017||Epidemic||In Madagascar plague resulted in deaths of over 90 persons by October 2017. While earlier cases of plague in Madagascar were mostly bubonic plague, the current cases were the more infectious pneumonic plague.|
|2019||Epidemic||In China during November 2019, four cases of plague were reported. Two of them were reported to be the more infectious pneumonic plague.|
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An epidemiologist with the Central District Health Department ... says they’ve seen plague in ground squirrels southeast of Boise before, but this year it’s spreading fast. ... The outbreak should slow down once the ground squirrels go into summer hibernation in late June and early July. ... There's little officials can do to stop the outbreak in the meantime. Until then, officials are asking people and their pets to avoid the infected area.
- "Officials: Ground Squirrels In Southwestern Idaho Likely Have Plague". Boise State Public Radio. Associated Press. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
- Wright, Samantha (13 December 2016). "CDC Says Six Cats Diagnosed With Plague In Idaho This Summer". Boise State Public Radio. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
- Roberts, Leslie (9 October 2017). "Deadly plague epidemic rages in Madagascar". Science. Retrieved 12 October 2017.