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.
Plague of Cyprian breaks out in Rome. It is estimated to kill about 5000 people a day.
Plague epidemic originates in Ethiopia spreads to Pelusium in Egypt.
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.
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.
After passing from Italy to Syria, Palestine, and Iraq, plague reaches Iran.
A large epidemic of plague breaks out in Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sasanian Empire, killing more than 100,000 people.
The second plague pandemic breaks out in China. 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.
Bubonic plague is reported in central Asia.
Plague occurs in southern Russia, around the lower Volga River basin.
Bubonic plague breaks out in China and India.
In 1347, the Genoese possession of Caffa, a great trade emporium on the Crimean peninsula, came under siege by an army of Mongol warriors of the Golden Horde under the command of Janibeg. After a protracted siege during which the Mongol army was reportedly withering from the disease, they decided to use the infected corpses as a biological weapon. The corpses were catapulted over the city walls, infecting the inhabitants. This event might have led to the transfer of the plague (Black Death) via their ships into the south of Europe, possibly explaining its rapid spread.
The plague spreads to Constantinople, a major port city. It also infects the Black Sea port of Kaffa down from southern Russia.
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.
Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio in his book Decameron writes a description of symptoms of the plague.
The Black Death arrives at Melcombe Regis in the south of England. Over the next year, the plague spreads into Wales, Ireland and Northern England. By 1350, the plague reaches Scotland. The estimated death toll for the British Isles and Ireland is calculated at 3.2 million.
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.”
Black Death epidemic reaches Russia, attacking Novgorod and reaching Pskov, before being temporarily suppressed by the Russian winter.
During an outbreak, doctors learn how to help the patient recover by bursting the buboes.
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.
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.
After finding thirty days isolation to be too short, Venice dictates that travelers 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.
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.
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.
Plague breaks out in Andalusia, killing about 20,000 people in less than four months.
Plague ravages Spain. About 30,000 die in Valencia. The great Plague of Seville breaks out.
Great Plague of London. 100,000 people are killed within 18 months.
The Great Plague of Vienna kills at least 76,000 people.
The Great Plague of Marseille kills more than 100,000 people in the French city of Marseille.
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.
Great Plague of 1738 kills at least 36,000 people.
The human plague is reported intermittently in the Chinese province of Yunnan, where the third plague pandemic would begin in the 1860s.
The plague spreads from Yunnan Province to Beihai on the Chinese coastline.
The plague is observed in Taiwan.
The plague spreads to Guangdong and results in the death of about 70,000 people.
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.
Plague is first introduced in Latin America in Paraguay, followed by Brazil and Argentina in the same year.
Plague infection is first reported in Uruguay.
Plague infection is first reported in Mexico.
Plague infection is first reported in Chile and Peru.
Plague infection is first reported in Panama.
Plague infection is first reported in Ecuador and Venezuela.
Pneumonic plague breaks out in Manchuria, killing about 60,000 people over the course of a year.
Plague infection is first reported in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Plague infection is first reported in Bolivia.
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.
During World War II, the Japanese Army developed weaponised plague, based on the breeding and release of large numbers of fleas. During the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, Unit 731 deliberately infected Chinese, Korean and Manchurian civilians and prisoners of war with the plague bacterium. These subjects, termed "maruta" or "logs", were then studied by dissection, others by vivisection while still conscious. Members of the unit such as Shiro Ishii were exonerated from the Tokyo tribunal by Douglas MacArthur but 12 of them were prosecuted in the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials in 1949 during which some admitted having spread bubonic plague within a 36-kilometre (22 mi) radius around the city of Changde.
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.
After World War II, both the United States and the Soviet Union developed means of weaponising pneumonic plague. Experiments included various delivery methods, vacuum drying, sizing the bacterium, developing strains resistant to antibiotics, combining the bacterium with other diseases (such as diphtheria), and genetic engineering. Scientists who worked in USSR bio-weapons programs have stated that the Soviet effort was formidable and that large stocks of weaponised plague bacteria were produced. Information on many of the Soviet projects is largely unavailable. Aerosolized pneumonic plague remains the most significant threat.
The plague can be easily treated with antibiotics. Some countries, such as the United States, have large supplies on hand if such an attack should occur, thus making the threat less severe.
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.
The plague bacterium could develop drug resistance and again become a major health threat. One case of a drug-resistant form of the bacterium was found in Madagascar in 1995. Further outbreaks in Madagascar were reported in November 2014 and October 2017.
An outbreak of plague is reported in Algeria, in an area considered plague-free for 50 years.
100 cases of suspected pneumonic plague, including 19 deaths, are reported in Orientale Province, Congo.
13 cases, with two deaths, are reported in the states of New Mexico, Colorado, California, and Texas.
Plague is reported in Libya, after 25 years without a case of the disease.
A case of bubonic plague is reported in a region of Kyrgyzstan bordering Kazakhstan.
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.
Globally about 600 cases are reported a year. In 2017 the countries with the most cases include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Peru. It has historically occurred in large outbreaks, with the best known being the Black Death in the 14th century which resulted in greater than 50 million dead.
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.