Viruses in History

Historical Events


The 1918 Flu PandemicThe 1918 Flu Pandemic

1918-10-31 Spanish flu kills 21,000 people in the US in a single week
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1918: A group of Americans in California with a message for their fellow countrymen
1918: A group of Americans in California with a message for their fellow countrymen
  • 1955-06-10 1st separation of virus into component parts reported

Historic DiscoveryPolio

1955-11-03 Scientists Carlton E. Schwerdt and Fred L. Schaffer announce they have crystallized the pure polio virus, meaning they can better determine the virus' chemical and biological properties
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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.
  • 1955-11-03 First virus crystallized (announced)
  • 1984-04-21 Centers for Disease Cont says virus discovered in France causes AIDS
  • 1984-04-23 AIDS-virus identified as HTLV-III (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
  • 1995-05-09 Kinshasa, Zaire under quarantine after an outbreak of Ebola virus

Historic DiscoverySARS Outbreak

2003-04-23 Beijing closes all schools for two weeks because of the SARS virus
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The SARS virus, known technically as SARS-CoV (coronavirus). First appearing in China in 2002, the disease spread to 29 countries before it was stopped.
The SARS virus, known technically as SARS-CoV (coronavirus). First appearing in China in 2002, the disease spread to 29 countries before it was stopped.
  • 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.
  • 2012-08-21 20 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo die from the Ebola virus
  • 2014-08-12 World Health Organization (WHO) gives its 'cautious blessing' to the use of experimental drugs to treat the Ebola virus
  • 2014-08-24 Nurse William Pooley flies back to the UK for emergency treatment after contracting Ebola virus after attempting to treat patients in Sierra Leone
  • 2014-08-29 Riots break out in Guinea following rumours that health workers are deliberately transmitting the Ebola virus to locals
  • 2014-09-05 World Health Organization estimates 1,900 people have died from the Ebola virus out of 3,500 infected in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone

Event of interestEvent of Interest

2014-09-15 President Obama announces the US will send 3,000 troops to help combat spread of the Ebola virus

44th US President Barack Obama
44th US President
Barack Obama
  • 2014-09-30 A case of Ebola Virus reaches Dallas, Texas
  • 2014-10-09 Gatwick, Heathrow and JFK airports enhance screening for the Ebola virus
  • 2014-10-14 World Health Organization announce Ebola virus death toll at 4,447, and the fatality rate has reached 70%
  • 2016-01-23 Zika virus outbreak in Brazil prompts Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica to recommend women delay pregnancies for up to 2 years
  • 2016-06-09 World Health Organisation advises delaying pregnancy in areas with the Zika virus
  • 2016-11-24 International research team publishes discovery of 1,500 new viruses found in invertebrates
  • 2017-06-05 Puerto Rico declares its Zika virus epidemic over
  • 2017-10-19 Outbreak of the Marburg virus declared by Uganda's Ministry of Health
  • 2018-05-22 Outbreak of Nipah virus confirmed to have killed 10 including a nurse in Kozhikode, India
  • 2018-09-24 Ebola virus has caused 69 deaths and sickened 150 people according to Ministry of Heath in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 2019-06-11 WHO confirms first case of Ebola virus in Uganda, spread from outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

Famous Birthdays

  • 1864-10-28 Dmitry Ivanovsky, Russian botanist who discovered the organisms that came to be known as viruses, born in Gdov, Russia (d. 1920)
  • 1904-08-16 Wendell Stanley, American biochemist, first to crystallize a virus (Nobel 1946), born in Ridgeville, Indiana (d. 1971)

Famous Deaths

  • 1920-06-20 Dmitry Ivanovsky, Russian Botanist who discovered the organisms that came to be known as viruses, dies at 55
  • 1994-12-24 Rossano Brazzi, Italian actor (Final Justice, South Pacific, The Barefoot Contessa), dies of a neural virus at 78
  • 2018-03-02 Van McLain [McElvain], American rock guitarist (Shooting Star), dies at 62 from West Nile virus