Diseases in History

Historical Events

  • 1747-01-31 The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital, London
  • 1934-01-01 Nazi Germany passes the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring".

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1949-10-05 Sportswriter Robert Ruark first reports golfing great Bobby Jones's rare spinal disease (syringomyelia) which prevent him from playing any form of golf again

Golfer Bobby Jones
Golfer
Bobby Jones
  • 1956-05-01 A doctor in Japan reports an "epidemic of an unknown disease of the central nervous system", marking the official discovery of Minamata disease
  • 1981-06-05 AIDS Epidemic officially begins when US Centers for Disease Control reports on pneumonia affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles
  • 1981-06-18 Vaccine to prevent hoof & mouth disease announced
  • 1981-08-28 National Centers for Disease Control announces high incidence of Pneumocystis & Kaposi's sarcoma in gay men
  • 1984-04-21 Centers for Disease Cont says virus discovered in France causes AIDS
  • 1984-08-02 Jeff Blatnick becomes first American to win a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Los Angeles Olympics, Blatnick was in remission for Hodgkin’s disease
  • 1990-04-24 Gruinard Island, Scotland, is officially declared free of the anthrax disease after 48 years of quarantine.
  • 1995-01-30 Workers from the National Institutes of Health announce the success of clinical trials testing the first preventive treatment for sickle-cell disease.
  • 1996-03-20 UK admits humans can catch CJD (Mad Cow Disease)
  • 1996-03-25 The European Union's Veterinarian Committee bans the export of British beef and its by-products as a result of "mad cow disease" (BSE).
  • 2002-01-14 UK declared free of foot-and-mouth cattle disease
  • 2005-03-04 United Nations warns that about 90 million Africans could be infected by HIV in the future without further action against the spread of the disease.
  • 2010-01-04 The Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed HIV infection from its list of communicable diseases of public health significance.

  • 2012-04-26 Indonesia suspends imports of American beef after a confirmed case of mad cow disease in California
  • 2015-10-28 World Heath Organization ranks Tuberculosis alongside HIV as world's deadliest infectious diseases, killing 1.2 million (2014)

Event of interestEvent of Interest

2016-09-21 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan pledge $3 billion to medical research to "cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century"

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Founder
Mark Zuckerberg
  • 2017-08-02 First successful gene editing in human embryos to repair disease-causing mutation reported by scientists in "Nature"
  • 2017-12-11 Landmark trial for Huntington's disease in London announces positive results - first time a drug has been able to slow an incurable brain disorder
  • 2018-01-02 WHO reveals it will classify gaming addiction as mental health condition in its next Classification of Diseases
  • 2018-03-06 "Highest overdose death rates ever recorded in the US", 142,000 overdoses in 2016-17 period according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Historic DiscoveryPolio

2018-06-26 Polio outbreak confirmed in New Guinea by WHO, 18 years after it was declared free of the disease
Learn More >>

Children with polio in a US hospital, inside an iron lung. In about 0.5% of cases, patients suffered from paralysis, sometimes resulting in the inability to breathe. More often, limbs would be paralyzed.
Children with polio in a US hospital, inside an iron lung. In about 0.5% of cases, patients suffered from paralysis, sometimes resulting in the inability to breathe. More often, limbs would be paralyzed.
  • 2018-08-15 Record 72,000 Americans (up 10%) killed by drug overdoses in 2017 in new figures by Centers for Disease Control
  • 2018-09-04 WHO reports more than a quarter of people worldwide (1.4 billion) don't get enough physical exercise to avoid major diseases
  • 2019-02-22 Musician Peter Frampton announces he has a degenerative muscular disease and his next tour will be his last
  • 2019-04-17 10 babies with "bubble boy disease" cured using a gene therapy made from HIV at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, according to new study
  • 2019-08-21 Nigeria goes three years without a case of polio in landmark toward eradication of the disease
  • 2019-10-05 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reveals he has a neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis, causing him health problems

Famous Birthdays

  • 1756-09-07 Willem Bilderdijk, Dutch poet and literature (Disease of Scientists), born in Amsterdam (d. 1831)
  • 1789-09-28 Richard Bright, English physician (Bright's Disease/nephritis), born in Bristol, England (d. 1858)
  • 1807-10-22 Magnus Huss, Swedish physician who coined the word alcoholism and was the first to define it as a disease, born in Torps, Västernorrland county, Sweden (d. 1890)
  • 1814-01-11 James Paget, English surgeon (disease of Paget)
  • 1822-02-22 Adolf Kuszmaul, German physician (stomach pump, Kuszmaul disease)
  • 1836-07-20 Thomas Allbutt, English physiologist (Diseases of the Heart), born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire (d. 1925)
  • 1901-02-20 René Jules Dubos, French US microbiologist/author (Health & Disease)

Person of interestJoseph Gilbert Hamilton

1907-11-11 Joseph G. Hamilton, American physician who was a pioneer of using radioactive isotopes in disease treatment and diagnosis, born in Waverley, Massachusetts (d. 1957)

  • 1922-02-22 William J. Baumol, American economist (Baumol’s cost disease), born in South Bronx, New York (d. 2017)
  • 1925-07-03 Michael Oliver, British cardiologist (linked cholesterol with coronary artery disease), born in Borth, Wales (d. 2015)

Famous Deaths


Person of interestFrancisco Vázquez de Coronado

1554-09-22 Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Spanish explorer and conquistador who led 1st European expedition to discover the Grand Canyon, dies of disease at about 44

Explorer and Conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado
Explorer and Conquistador
Francisco Vázquez de Coronado

Person of interestLudwig van Beethoven

1827-03-26 Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer (5th Symphony, Ode to Joy), dies of liver disease at 56

  • 1834-12-23 Thomas Malthus, British economist and demographer (Law of Malthus), dies of heart disease at 68
  • 1858-12-16 Richard Bright, English physician (Bright's disease/nephritis), dies at 69
  • 1860-06-29 Thomas Addison, English physician (A-Biermer Disease), dies at 67
  • 1874-01-14 Johann Philipp Reis, German Physicist and Inventor, dies of lung disease at 40
  • 1884-02-14 Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, 1st wife of Theodore Roosevelt, dies of Bright's disease at 22
  • 1886-04-27 Henry Hobson Richardson, Romanesque revival architect, dies of Bright's disease at 47

Person of interestFranz Liszt

1886-07-31 Franz Liszt, Hungarian romantic composer and virtuoso pianist (Faust Symphony), dies of heart disease at 74

Composer & Pianist Franz Liszt
Composer & Pianist
Franz Liszt
  • 1890-04-22 Magnus Huss, Swedish physician who coined the word alcoholism and was the first to define it as a disease, dies at 82
  • 1893-04-27 John Ballance, 14th Prime Minister of New Zealand & the founder of the Liberal Party, dies of intestinal disease after a major surgical operation at 54
  • 1899-12-30 James Paget, English surgeon (disease of Paget), dies at 85
  • 1909-04-09 Helena Modrzejewska, Polish-American actress, dies from Bright's disease at 68
  • 1910-03-20 James Hogan, Irish College Football Hall of Fame tackle (Yale), dies of Bright's disease at 37
  • 1911-05-18 Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer & conductor (Children's Death Songs), dies of heart disease at 50
  • 1913-07-31 John Milne, British geologist (developed the first modern seismograph), dies of Bright's disease at 62
  • 1914-08-06 Ellen Axson Wilson, US 1st Lady (1913-14), dies during Woodrow Wilson's 1st term of Bright's Disease at 54
  • 1915-06-28 Victor Trumper, Australian cricket batsman (48 Tests, top score 214; key figure foundation of rugby league in Australia), dies of Bright's disease at 37
  • 1924-03-07 Pat Moran, manager (Cincinnati Reds), dies of Bright's Disease
  • 1925-02-22 Thomas Allbutt, English physiologist (Diseases of the Heart), dies at 88
  • 1927-10-22 Ross Youngs, American baseball player, dies of Bright's disease at 30
  • 1929-08-02 Mae Costello [Altschuk], American actress (The Joys of a Jealous Wife), dies of heart disease at 47

Person of interestLou Gehrig

1941-06-02 Lou Gehrig, American Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman (6 x World Series, 2 x AL MVP), dies of motor neurone disease at 37

Baseball Player Lou Gehrig
Baseball Player
Lou Gehrig
  • 1945-07-05 John Curtin, Victoria, 14th Prime Minister of Australia (Labor: 1941-45), dies of heart disease at 60

Person of interestJohn J. Pershing

1948-07-15 John J. Pershing [Blackjack], American general and WWI commander, dies of coronary artery disease at 87

US WW1 Commander John J. Pershing
US WW1 Commander
John J. Pershing

Person of interestJoseph Gilbert Hamilton

1957-02-18 Joseph G. Hamilton, American Physician who was a pioneer of using radioactive isotopes in disease treatment and diagnosis, dies of radiation induced leukemia at 49

  • 1958-12-01 Patricia "Boots" Mallory, American dancer and actress (Handle With Care), dies from chronic throat disease at 45
  • 1962-08-23 Irving Fine, American composer (Toccata), dies of heart disease at 47
  • 1963-10-15 Horton Smith. American golfer (US Masters 1934, 36), dies of Hodgkin's disease at 55

Person of interestJoseph Erlanger

1965-12-05 Joseph Erlanger, American physiologist (shock therapy-Nobel 1944), dies of heart disease at 91

Physiologist Joseph Erlanger
Physiologist
Joseph Erlanger

Person of interestAlbert Stevens

1966-01-09 Albert Stevens, an American patient in secret medical trials who survived the highest known radiation dose in a human, dies of heart disease at 79

Human Medical Subject Albert Stevens
Human Medical Subject
Albert Stevens
  • 1967-10-03 [Woodrow Wilson] Woody Guthrie, American folk singer (This Land Is Your Land), dies of Huntington's disease at 55
  • 1968-07-01 Virginia Weidler, American child actress (Babes on Broadway, All This & Heaven Too), dies of heart disease at 42
  • 1970-07-31 Booker Ervin [Booker Telleferro Ervin II], American saxophonist (Charles Mingus), dies of kidney disease at 39
  • 1974-06-16 Mauritz Hugo, Swedish actor (Atomic Blonde, Death Valley Gunfighter), dies from heart disease at 65
  • 1974-12-26 Farid al-Atrash [El-Atrache], Syrian composer, musician, virtuoso oud player, and actor (Akher kedba), dies of heart disease at 59
  • 1976-03-06 Maxie Rosenbloom, American boxer, actor (world light heavyweight champion 1932-34), dies of Paget's disease of bone at 68
  • 1981-07-07 Keefe Brasselle [John Brasselli], American actor (The Eddie Cantor Story, Be Our Guest), dies of liver disease at 58

Person of interestHenry Fonda

1982-08-12 Henry Fonda, actor (On Golden Pond), dies of heart disease at 77

Person of interestGeorge Balanchine

1983-04-30 George Balanchine, Russian-American ballet composer and choreographer who founded the New York City Ballet, dies from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease at 79

Ballet Choreographer George Balanchine
Ballet Choreographer
George Balanchine

Person of interestDavid Niven

1983-07-29 David Niven, British actor (Around the World in 80 Days, Rugues), dies in Switzerland of Lou Gehrig's disease at 73

  • 1984-05-01 Gordon Jenkins, American arranger and orchestra leader (Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra), dies of Lou Gehrig's disease at 73
  • 1984-08-08 Richard Deacon, American actor (Dick Van Dyke Show), dies of Cardiovascular disease at 62
  • 1984-11-07 George Matthews, actor (Chick-Glynis), dies at 73 of heart disease
  • 1985-04-23 Kent Smith, American actor (Peyton Place, Invaders), dies from heart disease at 78
  • 1988-05-01 Ben Lexcen, Australian yacht designer (Australia II 1983 America's Cup), dies of heart disease at 52
  • 1989-05-19 Robert Webber, American actor (12 Angry Men, Moonlighting, 79 Park Avenue), dies of Lou Gehrig's disease at 64
  • 1990-06-02 Walter Davis Jr., American hard bop pianist (Davis Cup, Illumination), dies of liver and kidney disease at 57
  • 1990-07-17 Bernard Cowan, TV announcer, dies of kidney disease at 68
  • 1990-10-15 Delphine Seyrig, French actress (Freak Orlando, Reperages) dies of lung disease at 58

Person of interestJohn Bardeen

1991-01-30 John Bardeen, American physicist, electrical engineer and co-inventor of the transistor (Nobel 1956, 1972), dies of heart disease at 82

Physicist and Electrical Engineer John Bardeen
Physicist and Electrical Engineer
John Bardeen
  • 1991-10-17 Tennessee Ernie Ford, American country music singer and actor (Sixteen Tons), dies of liver disease at 72
  • 1992-03-27 Anita Colby, American model, author and actress (Mary of Scotland, Cover Girl, Pepsi Cola Playhouse), dies of lung disease at 77
  • 1993-10-07 Cyril Cusack, South African actor (Day of the Jackal, Fahrenheit 451), dies of neuron disease at 82
  • 1995-05-02 Michael Hordern, American actor (Watership Down, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold), dies from kidney disease at 83
  • 1996-02-26 Mieczysław Weinberg [Moisey Samuilovich Vaynberg], Polish-Soviet composer, dies from Crohn's disease at 77
  • 1996-07-24 Virginia Christine [Ricketts], American actress (Mrs Olson, Tales of Wells Fargo), dies of cardiovascular disease at 76
  • 1996-10-02 Banjo Matthews, American auto racer, owner, constructer (A. J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough), dies of heart and respiratory disease at 64
  • 1997-02-01 Marjorie Reynolds [Goodspeed], American actress and dancer (Holiday Inn, Life of Riley), dies from congestive heart disease at 79

Person of interestJames Earl Ray

1998-04-23 James Earl Ray, American assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., dies while still under detention of complications related to kidney disease and liver failure caused by hepatitis C at 70

Assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. James Earl Ray
Assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.
James Earl Ray
  • 1998-06-21 Al Campanis, Greek baseball second baseman and executive (first Greek player in MLB history; GM LA Dodgers 1968-87), dies from coronary artery disease at 81
  • 1998-11-08 Jean Marais, French actor (Donkey Skin, Orpheus), dies of cardio-vascular disease at 84
  • 1999-07-04 Ronald "Ronny" Graham, American actor, director, composer, lyricist, and writer (Bob Crane Show, Chico & the Man), dies of liver disease at 79
  • 2002-01-02 Margaret "Bibi" Osterwald, American actress (As Good as It Gets, Bridget Loves Bernie), dies of lung disease at 83

Person of interestRichard Harris

2002-10-25 Richard Harris, Irish actor (A Man Called Horse, This Sporting Life) and singer (MacArthur Park) dies of Hodgkin's disease at 72

Actor and Singer Richard Harris
Actor and Singer
Richard Harris
  • 2002-11-05 Billy Guy, American singer (The Coasters) dies of cardiovascular disease at 66
  • 2002-11-05 Vinnette Carroll, American actress and 1st African-American woman to direct on Broadway (1972: Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope), dies of heart disease and diabetes at 80
  • 2002-11-07 Margaret "Peg" Phillips, American actress (Northern Exposure, ER, Suddenly Susan), dies of lung disease at 84

Person of interestDolly the Sheep

2003-02-14 Dolly the Sheep, first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell dies young form a progressive lung disease aged 6

  • 2004-01-29 Otto Wilhelm Fischer, Austrian actor (Helden, Ich suche dich), dies of kidney disease at 88
  • 2004-04-01 Paul Atkinson, British rock guitarist and record company executive (The Zombies-Never Even Thought), dies of liver and kidney disease at 58
  • 2004-06-22 Thomas Gold, Austrian astrophysicist (proposed steady-state theory of universe), dies from complications due to heart disease at 84

Person of interestVaughn Meader

2004-10-29 Vaughn Meader, American comedian and musician, dies of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 68 (b. 1936)

Comedian and Musician Vaughn Meader
Comedian and Musician
Vaughn Meader
  • 2005-05-21 Howard Morris, American comedic actor and director (The Andy Griffith Show, High Anxiety), dies of a heart disease at 85
  • 2006-02-25 Darren McGavin [Richardson], American actor (Murphy Brown, The Night Stalker, A Christmas Story), dies of cardiovascular disease at 83
  • 2006-06-17 Arthur Franz, American actor (The Caine Mutiny, Invaders From Mars, Young Lions), dies from emphysema and heart disease at 86
  • 2006-07-13 Red Buttons [Aaron Chwatt], American comedian and actor (Sayonara, Five Weeks in a Balloon), dies from cardiovascular disease at 87
  • 2006-10-28 Marijohn Wilkin, American songwriter (One Day at a Time), dies of heart disease at 86
  • 2007-10-09 Carol Bruce [Shirley Levy], American actress (Behind the Eight Ball, WKRP in Cincinnati), dies of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 87
  • 2007-10-12 Lon "Lonny" Chapman, American actor (Investigator, For the People), dies from heart disease at 87

Person of interestEvel Knievel

2007-11-30 Evel Knievel, American motorcycle daredevil (Snake River Canyon), dies of pulmonary disease at 69

Motorcycle Daredevil Evel Knievel
Motorcycle Daredevil
Evel Knievel
  • 2008-02-26 Buddy Miles, American rock drummer (The Electric Flag), dies of congestive heart disease at 60

Person of interestEstelle Getty

2008-07-22 Estelle Getty, American actress (The Golden Girls, The Golden Palace), dies of Lewy body disease at 84

Actress Estelle Getty
Actress
Estelle Getty
  • 2008-12-02 Odetta [Odetta Holmes], American folk singer (Sanctuary), actress and civil rights activist, dies of heart disease at 77

Person of interestWalter Cronkite

2009-07-17 Walter Cronkite, American broadcast journalist and news anchor (CBS Evening News 1962-81), dies of cerebrovascular disease at 92

Broadcast Journalist Walter Cronkite
Broadcast Journalist
Walter Cronkite
  • 2011-10-31 Liz Anderson, American country music singer-songwriter (Mama Spank, The Game of Triangles), dies of heart and lung disease at 81
  • 2012-03-03 Leonardo Cimino, Italian-American actor (The Monster Squad, V, Dune, Waterworld, Hudson Hawk), dies from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 94
  • 2012-03-27 Warren Stevens, American actor (Richard Boone Show), dies from lung disease at 92
  • 2012-06-11 Ann Rutherford, Canadian actress (Gone with the Wind, Whistling in the Dark), dies from heart disease at 94
  • 2012-08-23 Jerry Nelson, American puppeteer, dies from prostate cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 78
  • 2012-08-26 A K Hangal, Indian freedom fighter and Bollywood character actor (Aaina, Sholay), dies of respiratory disease at 98
  • 2012-10-16 Eddie Yost, American MLB player, dies from cardiovascular disease at 86
  • 2012-12-19 Robert Bork, American legal scholar/jurist, dies from heart disease at 85
  • 2013-03-25 Lou Sleater, American MLB pitcher, dies from lung disease at 86
  • 2013-10-27 Lou Reed, American musician, dies from liver disease at 71

Person of interestPhil Everly

2014-01-03 Phil Everly, American singer & half of the rock and roll duo "The Everly Brothers" (Bye Bye Love, Wake Up Little Susie), dies of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 74

Singer Phil Everly
Singer
Phil Everly
  • 2014-05-19 Jack Brabham AO, OBE, Australian auto racer and team owner (World F1 champion 1959-60, 66), dies of liver disease at 88
  • 2015-01-01 Jeff Golub, American jazz guitarist (Avenue Blue, Rod Stewart), dies of a rare brain disease at 59
  • 2015-01-10 Robert Stone, American novelist (Dog Soldiers, WUSA), dies from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 77
  • 2015-01-18 Dallas Taylor, American session drummer (Crosby, Stills & Nash, Clear Light), dies of complications from pneumonia and kidney disease at 66