History of Medicine Epidemic cholera is an acute, painful, and often fatal disease which ravaged nearly the entire world during several severe outbreaks over the course of the 19th century. It is a diarrheal disease which can cause death by dehydration to an untreated patient in a matter of hours and is extremely contagious in communities without adequate, modern sanitation, as most of the world was in 1817 when it first left India. News of its spread and impending approach often sent panic into entire nations, and health professionals were largely at a loss as to how to treat or prevent it until modern epidemiological and laboratory techniques were developed later in the century.
The Deadly Virus True or False? The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 killed more people than died in World War One. View the Documents and Photos Hard as it is to believe, the answer is true. World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world's population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history. The plague emerged in two phases. In late spring of 1918, the first phase, known as the "three-day fever," appeared without warning. Few deaths were reported. Victims recovered after a few days. When the disease surfaced again that fall, it was far more severe.