Scattered outbreaks had been occurring for some time. In England. America. Mexico. The contagions always remained relatively contained but now, something was in the air and the winds were carrying it across the continent. On February 16, 1848, two railroad workers sneezed and fell dead at the feet of a squad of Royal Guards in the streets of Paris. A week later, King Louis Philippe abdicated his throne and in the next, the Second Republic was declared in France.
In March, signs began to appear elsewhere, especially among the urban poor and unemployed, among the waves of immigrants as they wandered searchingly for cures across the invisible borders of the German States, Denmark, Schleswig, Hungary, and the Habsburg Empire. Natural disasters heightened the anxiety of the increasingly unsettled world as hurricanes struck North America and earthquakes shook New Zealand.
As 1848 progressed, cases appeared in more and more nations. Switzerland, Poland, Wallachia, Ireland, and Belgium all diagnosed incidents of the spreading fever. Death by the thousands followed in its wake. Even across the oceans and far away from the hosts in Europe, Brazil and India were forced to put quarantines in place.
But it seemed that as quickly and as violently as it had come, it suddenly disappeared. By the end of the year, although some places continued to experience outbreaks until as late as 1852, the dead were all wrapped and buried; the epidemic that swept across the globe had ended and the faces of the affected states remained relatively unchanged.
No one has yet to give a precise definition to what happened to the world in 1848. Some called it democracy, others liberalism, some nationalism or socialism. Idealism. Freedom. Whatever one names it though, the revolutions stemmed from frustration: and wherever that grows in abundance, it becomes infectious.