What Was The Black Plague?

The Black Plague was a plague pest management that killed an estimated 75 million people in Europe and Asia in the 14th century. The bacterium Yersinia pestis caused the plague. The disease has affected all of Europe causing social, religious and economic upheavals. It is believed that the European population has decreased by 30-60% while the global population has decreased from 450 million to 350-375 million. Researchers believe that the black plague originated from the plains of central Asia. It was spread along the Silk Road by Asian traders in the Crimea before being spread to Europe by rat fleas on merchant ships. With 1400 the severity of the disease had diminished only to resurface in China in the 19th century.

Causes of black death

The bacterium Yersinia pestis causes the plague It is found in rodents and spreads to other animals from fleas. Although humans can contract plague, they can only be spread to other humans by fleas. Early researchers concluded that the black plague, like another plague, was thought to be transmitted by mice. However, the resurgence of the disease between 1346 and 1400 and in 19 thcentury, and how it quickly spread in Asia and in Europe it riders today’s scientists. Medical scientists at the University of Oslo modeled the spread of the disease and determined that humans were spreading the disease; not rats. They concluded that human ectoparasites, particularly fleas, were the probable vectors of the disease. Poor hygiene and the uncontrolled movement of people across the continent is considered the reason why the disease spread rapidly and caused mass death.

Signs and symptoms of the black plague

The modern accounts of the Death Star vary, but the most common symptom was the occurrence of blisters in the neck, armpits and groin. The buboes gave off blood and pus when they were opened. Although this was the typical sign of the disease, it is noted that some tumors grow as large as an egg or the common apple. Black spots would appear in different parts of the body, including the fingers. Patients would therefore suffer from acute fever, resulting in frequent vomiting. Seven days after infection the patient would die. Another account provided by Lodewijk Heyligen included respiratory problems such as lung infections which are a trait associated with pulmonary plague. The black plague is thought to have adapted to three forms. First, the infected one would suffer from respiratory problems and died within two days.

Third pandemic pandemic

In the mid-19 th century (1855-1859), the plague resurfaced in China and spread around the world. Millions of people are estimated to have died in India alone. Between 1900 and 1925 the disease caused the death of 1,000 in Australia. Between 1900-1904 the first cases of plague reached San Francisco, from 1993, approximately 262 cases were reported in the United States, mainly in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Colorado.

Bubonic plague today

Today the disease is treated and prevented with the use of insecticides and antibiotics. A vaccine against the plague has been developed. However, misuse of antibiotics has led to drug-resistant plague variants. The island of Madagascar has been severely affected since the first variant of drug resistance of the bacterium was discovered on the island in 1995. In October 2017, 170 people died from the disease on the island.


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