Epidemics

Epidemics are of particular interest to genealogists because they may explain why ancestors died in great numbers or left an area for no apparent reason. The following table lists a number of epidemics by year, and includes location and the disease involved.

Year(s)LocationDiseaseComment
1332 India Bubonic Plague Original location of this pandemic.
1347-1350 Europe Bubonic Plague Nearly 1/3 the population of Europe succumbed in the first two years.
1349 Norway
Scotland
Prussia
Iceland
Italy
Bubonic Plague
1351 Russia Bubonic Plague
1485 England The Sweat Also called The Swat, New Acquaintance, Stoupe, or "Knave know thy master".
1508 England The Sweat A fast acting disease, "they were dancing in court at nine and dead at eleven."
1517 England The Sweat
1518-1520 Mexico:Aztec Empire Smallpox Brought to South America by the Spanish
1527-1530 Peru:Inca Empire Smallpox
1539-1540 England Bubonic Plague
1550-1566 England Bubonic Plague The population of England may have fallen as much as 6% between 1550 and 1560 due, primarily, to the plague.
1551 England The Sweat
1577 England:Oxford Goal fever
1581 England:York Goal fever
1590 England:Lincoln Goal fever
1615 England Unknown burning fever
1616 USA:New England Smallpox Mostly affects Native Americans
1634-1635 England Smallpox
1636 England:Hereford Goal fever
1638 England Unidentified fever
1647 USA:Massachusetts Yellow Fever
1649 USA:New England
USA:Massachusetts:Boston
Smallpox Boston especially hard hit.
1657 USA:Massachusetts:Boston Measles
1657 USA:Massachusetts:Boston Measles
1660-1661 England Unidentified fever
1666 England:London Bubonic Plague Last great outbreak.
1666 USA:New England Smallpox
1678 USA:New England Smallpox
1687 USA:Massachusetts:Boston Measles
1690 USA:New York:New York City Yellow Fever
1711 Europe
especially Northern Europe
Plague
1713 USA:Massachusetts:Boston Measles
1729 USA:Massachusetts:Boston Measles
1732-1733 Worldwide Influenza
1736 USA:Massachusetts:Essex Co. Throat Distemper 900 children died within 6 months in Essex County alone. Probably diphtheria.
1738 USA:South Carolina Smallpox
1739-1740 USA:Massachusetts:Boston Measles
1747 USA:Connecticut
USA:New York
USA:Pennsylvania
USA:South Carolina
Measles
1759 North America Measles
1761 North America
West Indies
Influenza
1770-1772 Balkans Plague
1772 North America Measles
1775 North America Unknown Especially in New England
1775-1776 Worldwide Influenza
1783 USA:Delaware:Dover Bilious Fever
1788 USA:Pennsylvania:Philadelphia
USA:New York:New York City
Measles
1793 USA:Pennsylvania:Harrisburg Unknown
1793 USA:Pennsylvania:Middletown Unknown
1793 USA:Vermont Influenza Killed 500 people in 5 counties in 4 weeks
1793 USA:Virginia Influenza
1793-1794 USA:Pennsylvania:Philadelphia Yellow Fever Over 4,000 dead
1796-1797 USA:Pennsylvania:Philadelphia Yellow Fever
1798 USA:Pennsylvania:Philadelphia Yellow Fever
1803 USA:New York:New York City Yellow Fever
1820-1823 USA Fever Starts on the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania and spreads across the nation
1820-1823 USA Fever
1831-1832 USA Asiatic Cholera Brought by English immigrants
1832 Ayrshire towns of Stevenston,
Dalry, and Kilbride
Cholera
1832 USA:New York:New York City Cholera More than 3,000 dead
1832 USA;Louisiana:New Orleans Cholera 4,340 dead
1832-1833 USA:Missouri:St. Louis Cholera
1833 USA:Ohio:Columbus Cholera
1834 USA:New York:New York City Cholera
1835 USA:Missouri:St. Louis Cholera
1837 USA:Pennsylvania:Philadelphia Typhus
1841 USA Yellow Fever
1846-1850 Ireland Potato Famine A fungus called "the Blight" infected the potato crop
1847 USA:Louisiana:New Orleans Yellow Fever
1847-1848 Worldwide Influenza
1848-1849 North America Cholera
1848-1849 USA:New York:New York City Cholera More than 5,000 dead
1850 USA Yellow Fever
1850-1851 North America Influenza
1851 USA:Great Plains Cholera
1851 USA:Illinois:Coles County Cholera
1851 USA:Missouri Cholera
1852 USA;Louisiana:New Orleans Yellow Fever 8,000 dead
1854 USA:Texas:Corpus Christi Yellow Fever
1855 USA Yellow Fever
1857-1859 Worldwide Influenza
1860-1861 USA:Pennsylvania Smallpox
1862-1863 USA:Southern California Smallpox Many Native Americans and Mexicans died
1865-1873 USA:Pennsylvania:Philadelphia
USA:New York
USA:Massachusetts:Boston
USA:Louisiana:New Orleans
Smallpox
1866 USA:Maryland:Baltimore
USA:Tennessee:Memphis
USA:Washington DC
Cholera
1867 USA:Texas:Indianola, Galveston, and Corpus Christi Yellow Fever
1867 USA;Louisiana:New Orleans Yellow Fever 3,093 dead
1873 USA:Alabama Cholera Moved along the railroad lines from Huntsville to Birmingham and Montgomery as these cities industrialized
1873-1875 North America and Europe Influenza
1878 USA:Northern New Jersey, possibly elsewhere Diphtheria Occurred in the Spring
1878 USA:Southern states Yellow Fever Over 13,000 dead in lower Missisippi Valley
1883 USA:Alabama Yellow Fever
1885 USA:Pennsylvania:Plymouth Typhoid
1886 USA:Florida:Jacksonville Yellow Fever
1895 USA:Washington DC Malaria
1898 Cuba Yellow Fever Spanish-American War; the disease took over 5,000 soldiers in July and August, only 968 died in combat
1900 USA:Texas:Galveston Cholera
1905 New Orleans
LA
Yellow Fever
1916 USA Polio Over 7,000 deaths, 27,363 reported cases, America's worst polio epidemic
1918 USA Spanish Influenza Over 500,000 dead, worst single U.S. epidemic
1918-1919 Worldwide Influenza
1941 Australia Rubella This disease was once considered one of the least troublesome childhood diseases.
1949 USA Polio 2,720 dead, 42,173 reported cases
1952 USA Polio 3,300 dead and over 57,000 cases reported
1952 USA Polio 3,300 dead, 57,628 reported cases
1962-1965 Worldwide Rubella Affected as many as 12.5 million causing deafness, blindness; approximately 30,000 babies in USA alone due to maternal Rubella
1981-Pres Worldwide AIDS/HIV U.S. AIDS cases: 886,575; total estimated AIDS deaths: 501,669 (Centers for Disease Control); 2003 total world AIDS cases: 38 million; total world AIDS deaths: 20 million.
1989-1991 USA:Maryland first
later all USA
Measles

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