Timeline of the plague throughout history

The other day I was reading up on the plague, and I realized that there wasn’t a comprehensive timeline on any single website. So I compiled the information that I could find and well, here’s a timeline of the plague for anyone else who’s interested.

430 BCE – 2nd year of Peloponnesian War. Thucydides wrote of a disease that is believed to be the Plague. Some scholars debate that it was smallpox. Killed one-third of the population in Athens.

1st Century – Rufus of Ephesus, a Greek anatomist, refers to an outbreak of plague in Libya, Egypt, and Syria

160 – Plague contributes to the collapse of the Han empires

165-180 – “Antonine” plague kills five million people of the Roman empire. Emperors Lucius Verus (in 169) and Marcus Aurelius (in 180) also succumb to the plague.

262 – A plague in Rome kills about 5000 people a day

540 – An outbreak of the plague occurs at Pelusium, Egypt.

541 – “Justinian plague” kills a quarter of the population in the Mediterranean region. 25 million worldwide. Lasted till about 750

542 – Plague reaches Constantinople.

588 – A second major wave of plague spread through the Mediterranean into what is now France.

1333 – Plague erupts in China

1338-1339 – Plague reported to be in central Asia

1345 – Mongols die of plague in the Russian steppes

1347 – Plague spreads to Constantinople, beginning its spread into Europe due to Constantinople’s major role as a port city. The plague is also in Southern Ukraine.

Oct. 1347 – Plague is brought to Sicily by a ship from the east. Reaches Alexandria and Cyprus as well.

Dec. 1347 – Plague hits Venice

Jan. 1348 – Reaches France and Germany

Sept. 1348 – Reaches London

1349 – Reaches Scotland, Wales, and Ireland

May 1349 – Reaches Norway

Oct. 1349 – The Pope condemns the actions of the Flagellants.

1351 – Reaches Russia

Chine loses around half its population; ~123 million to ~65 million.
Europe loses around one-third of its population; ~75 million to ~50 million.
Africa loses around one-eighth of its population; ~80 million to ~70 million
Thought that 1.4 million died in England (one-third of England’s 4.2 million people)

1353 – Giovanni Boccaccio finishes writing The Decameron, a fictional narrative that opens with a description of the 1348 outbreak of Black Death in Florence, Italy.

May 1665 – The Great Plague of London begins. 43 people dying of plague by May.

June 1665 – 6,137 people die by June.

July 1665 – 17,036 people die by July.

Aug. 1665 – 31,159 people die by August.

1666 – The Great Fire of London destroys most of the rats and fleas that carry the plague bacillus.

1679 – The plague devastates central Europe. There is a small outbreak in England. This is the last outbreak England will ever see.

1711 – Plague breaks out in Austria.

1722 – Daniel Defoe publishes A Journal of the Plague Year, a fictional recounting of the great Plague of London in 1665.

1770 – The Balkans battle the Plague for two years. But after this the plague mainly disappears from Europe.

1855 – The “Third Pandemic”, begins in China and spreads throughout the world, with China and India affected the most. Overall, this pandemic brings death to more than 12 million people.

1877 – The pandemic flares up again in Russia, China, and India.

1889– The Third Pandemic comes to an end.

1894 – The Plague appears in Hong Kong, then moving to India, where 10 million will die from it in the next twenty years. Death rate of about 90%.

1894 – Working independently, bacteriologists Alexandre Yersin and Shibasaburo Kitasato both 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 – The pandemic in China and India ends.

1900 – Outbreaks of Plague occur in Portugal and Australia.

1900-1904 – 121 people get the bubonic plague in San Francisco; only three survive.

1910 – In Manchuria, 60,000 people die due to pneumonic Plague over the course of a year.

1920 – Again in Manchuria, about 60,000 people die of Plague.

1924-25 – In Los Angeles, 40 people get the plague and only two survive.

1947 – Albert Camus publishes The Plague, a novel about a fictional outbreak of plague in Oran, Algeria.

Summer 1994 – 5,000 cases of pneumonic Plague occur in Surat, India, killing approximately 100 people.

2005 – Three mice infected with Bubonic Plague disappear from a laboratory at the PublicHealthResearchInstitute on the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

July 2014 – One man in China dies of the pneumonic plague. Four more are diagnosed with it in the Colorado.


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