CHARLOTTE, NC: With the world rapidly approaching full panic mode over the global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the notoriously inaccurate and misleading internet has been buzzing with bad information, rumors and fear-mongering about the disease. But it is nothing new. Hysteria over epidemics, or pandemics, most based
One of the most popular stories currently making the rounds is that every election year since 2004 has been infested with some major medical affliction ranging from Ebola to Avian flu to Swine flu to Zika virus and now coronavirus. It would be a good story, if it was true, but unfortunately for the purveyors of pop fiction, it’s not.
As one media source put it “these claims are misleading at best and flat out untrue at worst.”
An accurate history of past epidemics and presidential elections
According to the World Health Organization, SARS emerged in 2002 and the global epidemic ended in 2003. There would have been few cases during the 2004 election year.
Most of the Swine flu pandemic occurred in 2009 says the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and didn’t end until April 2010. Even so, it was over well before the general election began that fall.
Most people do recall the major Ebola outbreak in 2014 that lingered well past the election and on into 2016. Perhaps the length of the disease combined with its severity plus the outbreak of the Zika virus which began in 2015 and continued into 2016, added significant awareness at the time to create the illusion of biennial pandemics.
Furthermore, there were several outbreaks of diseases between 2004 and 2018 which had little or no impact on the United States despite claims connecting each one to the American midterm and presidential election cycle.
The 2018 Ebola outbreak which, by the way, is still ongoing, occurred within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The MERS outbreak began in 2012, and the CDC says there have only been two cases of MERS ever reported in the U.S. Both occurring in May of 2014 in people who had traveled to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi outbreak was being reported to have taken place.
The worst case of bad disease news run amok came in 2008 in the form of Avian flu.
The best-known outbreaks of Avian flu were in 1997 when it was first detected in humans and in 2003 when it emerged in humans for the first time since 1997.
According to the WHO and the CDC, 2008 was a year in which the virus most associated with Avian flu, H5N1, was declining rather than growing. A United Nations document from 2008 stated, “Only eleven outbreaks/cases of HPAI (H5N1) were reported worldwide in June 2008 in five countries (China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Viet Nam). This compares with 65 outbreaks in June 2006 and 55 in June 2007.”
In light of the latest declaration that coronavirus has now officially been declared a pandemic, there is still no validity to the claims of high disease rates during election years. Unless you consider that Americans actually do become “sick and tired” of political mumbo jumbo.
In that sense there is a bona fide connection.
Curing epidemics past, present, and future
There is no “cure” as yet for COVID-19, however many patients do recover on their own. The WHO hasn’t released a recovery rate at this point, but a recent situation report said that 80% of cases are mild or asymptomatic.
Epidemics have long been part of European and Asian history. The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence, Great Bubonic Plague, the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people during the 14th century.
Peaking in Europe between 1347 and 1351, the Black Death was the first major European outbreak of plague. It is the second plague pandemic.
Most likely originating in Central or East Asia, the plague traveled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by around 1343.
From there, it was most likely fleas living on the black rats did travel on Genoese merchant ships, spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin, before reaching the rest of Europe via the Italian peninsula.
And so in a small way, if you must have a pandemic link, we can turn to Italy to connect the plague with the current lockdown created by the coronavirus.
That’s silly, of course, but then again, what isn’t strange these days?
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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