Bubonic Plague

Bubonic Plague The Bubonic Plague has killed more people than any other plague. During the 1300’s, the Black Death, as they called it, killed nearly half the population of Europe.

They called it the Black Death because of the dark color the people’s faces would turn after they died. It is caused by rod-shaped bacteria, Yersinia Pestis. The Bubonic Plague is an acute and severe infection.It is carried by the fleas on infected rodents(rat, squirrel). If the rodent or flea bites a person then it can be passed from person to person from mucus droplets spread by coughing. When infected, the person becomes ill in a few hours to a few days. The bacteria spread throughout the body.

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The symptoms include swollen lymph nodes(buboes), damaged capillaries signified by bleeding under the skin and black splotches, high fever, aching limbs, vomiting blood, shivering and extreme pain, and swelling continues in lymph nodes on groins, armpits, and neck until they burst shortly before death.Other forms of the plague are pneumonic, which causes severe pneumonia and septicemia. All forms of the plague are extremely dangerous and contagious. (2) The plague has been known for at least three-thousand years.

Epidemics have been recorded in China since 224bc. The disease occurred in huge pandemics that destroyed the entire populations of cities throughout the Middle Ages; they have occurred sporadically since that time.The last great pandemic began in China in 1894 and spread to Africa, the Pacific islands, Australia, and the Americas, reaching San Francisco in 1900. Plague still occurs in Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia, but rarely appears in the U.S. Two small, well-contained outbreaks occurred in India in 1994. In 1950 the World Health Organization initiated sanitation programs for plague control throughout the world. (1) Many preventive measures, such as sanitation, killing of rats, and prevention of the transport of rats in ships arriving from ports in which the disease is endemic, are effective in reducing the incidence of plague.

Famine, which reduces resistance to the disease, results in spread of plague.Individuals who have contracted the disease are isolated, put to bed, and fed fluids and easily digestible foods. Sedatives are used to reduce pain and to quiet delirium. During World War II, scientists using sulfa drugs were able to produce cures of plague; subsequently, streptomycin and tetracycline were found to be more effective in controlling the disease. (3).

Bubonic Plague

The Bubonic Plague has killed more people than any other plague. During the 1300’s, the Black Death, as they called it, killed nearly half the population of Europe.

They called it the Black Death because of the dark color the people’s faces would turn after they died. It is caused by rod-shaped bacteria, Yersinia Pestis. The Bubonic Plague is an acute and severe infection. It is carried by the fleas on infected rodents(rat, squirrel). If the rodent or flea bites a person then it can be passed from person to person from mucus droplets spread by coughing. When infected, the person becomes ill in a few hours to a few days. The bacteria spread throughout the body. The symptoms include swollen lymph nodes(buboes), damaged capillaries signified by bleeding under the skin and black splotches, high fever, aching limbs, vomiting blood, shivering and extreme pain, and swelling continues in lymph nodes ongroins, armpits, and neck until they burst shortly before death.

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Other forms of the plague are pneumonic, which causes severe pneumonia and septicemia. All forms of the plague are extremely dangerous and contagious. (2)The plague has been known for at least three-thousand years.

Epidemics have been recorded in China since 224bc. The disease occurred in huge pandemics that destroyed the entire populations of cities throughout the Middle Ages; they have occurred sporadically since that time. The last great pandemic began in China in 1894 and spread to Africa, the Pacific islands, Australia, and the Americas, reaching San Francisco in 1900.

Plague still occurs in Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia, but rarely appears in the U.S. Two small, well-contained outbreaks occurred in India in 1994. In 1950 the World Health Organization initiated sanitation programs for plague control throughout the world. (1)Many preventive measures, such as sanitation, killing of rats, and prevention of the transport of rats in ships arriving from ports in which the disease is endemic, are effective in reducing the incidence of plague. Famine, which reduces resistance to the disease, results in spread of plague. Individuals who have contracted the disease are isolated, put to bed, and fed fluids and easily digestible foods.

Sedatives are used to reduce pain and to quiet delirium. During World War II, scientists using sulfa drugs were able to produce cures of plague; subsequently, streptomycin and tetracycline were found to be more effective in controlling the disease. (3)Science Essays

Bubonic Plague

The History and the Present State of the Bubonic PlagueThe Bubonic Plague got it’s name because of the symptoms of the disease. Bubonic plague causes swollen lymph nodes, called buboes.

These swollen lymph nodes are found in the groin area, which is “boubon” in Latin (Discovery).This disease became known as a “plague” because of its huge fatality rate throughout time. Bubonic plague was also known as the “Black Death” in Medieval times. This is because the dried blood under the skin turns black.The Plague is caused by an infection with Yersian pestis.

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Yersian Pertis is a bacteria carried by rats and fleas found in parts of Asia, Africa, and North and South America. Plague is given to humans by being bitten by a flea with the disease or by plague infected tissue. When Yersinia Pertis gets into the body, it goes to the liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and brain. Some of the symptons are shivering, vomiting, headache, giddiness, intolerance to light, pain in the back and limbs, or white coating on the tongue(Discovery). After a couple days places that have lymph nodes start to hurt (neck, armpits, and the groin). After the pains, there is swelling of the lymph nodes called “boboes”, which are hard lumps that begin to appear on the groin, neck, and armpit. Blood vessels then bust, which causes internal bleeding. Dried blood under the skin begins to turn black(Discovery).

The plague was called the Black Death because of the black blood(History).Fourteenth century doctors didn’t know what caused the plague, but they knew it was contagious. They wore a protective suit which had a mask with a beak. The beak of the mask, was filled with vinegar, sweet oils and other strong smelling things so that they would not have to smell the dead and dying people(History).

The Bubonic plague has a vaccine, which lasts for about 6 months. The plague vaccine is not available in the United States but a new vaccine is being worked on. The plague can be treated if caught early. Penicillin is useless on the plague(Discovery). The best way to prevent the plague is making places more clean by killing rats and other plague causing things.

The people of the 14th century tried to eliminate the plague by bathing in human urine, putting crap on themselves, putting dead animals in their houses, and drinking molten gold and emerald powder(History).The Bubonic plague is not as harsh as it used to be, but it still is around. The third biggest outbreak of the Bubonic plague in history was in Manchuria in 1890, and it even reached San Francisco in the early 1900’s. Before the plague started to die off, it killed 12,597,789 people in India and Asia(Far From).

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Bubonic Plague

Bubonic Plague Cantor states that, No one – peasant or aristocrat – was safe from the disease [bubonic plague], and once it was contracted, a horrible and painful death was almost a certainty. The dead and the dying lay in the streets abandoned by frightened friends and relatives (482). This certainly paints an accurate and horrifying picture of the fourteenth century during the plague. The bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death or The Plague, (Hindley 103) was one of the major scourges of the Middle Ages.

It killed indiscriminately without remorse or thought of consequences. Because the plague was so widespread, theories about causes, blame and a variety of supposed cures abounded. Most of these were without basis or fact and relied on myths and rumors.Theories for the causes and blames came from ignorance and hate, two horrible things married by fear. Some of the cures were not much better than the plague itself. The plague was transmitted to humans by fleas from infected rats that nested in people’s roofs (Matthew 154). Fourteenth century man had no concept of how the disease was spread or how it could be stopped.

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The plague was transmitted to western Europe from China along trade routes (Matthew 154). Once the plague had reached the coast of Europe, it was soon transmitted to the countryside through the commercial trade networks (Matthew 154).The first cases of the plague occurred in a European colony called Genoa (Blum, Cameron and Barnes 38). It was besieged in 1347 by mongols, who flung plague riddled bodies over the walls of Genoa. This was considered an early form of biological warfare (Blum, Cameron and Barnes 38). According to Matthews, Experts could do nothing to cure or explain the plague (154). The people of this period had no idea what they were dealing with. Even if they had known what caused the plague, their medical technology was almost nonexistent, so they could not have invented a cure (Matthew 154).

Though the doctors of the time were unable to cure the disease, or even explain it, they did observe its symptoms and try to supply theories of the plague’s cause (Matthew 154-5). People were aware that if you came in contact with the sick or their belongings (clothing, bedding, etc..) you would soon be afflicted with the disease (Herlihy 353). Medieval man also knew that animals could catch the disease from a person’s material possessions (Herlihy 353) but they never realized they could catch the plague from animals. There were three main theories about why the plague had stricken an area.

The first is a corrupted atmosphere or bad air, the second was the alignment of the planets, and the third the wrath of God (Ziegler 3).Some people said there were clouds that carried the plague (Ziegler 3-4). Others believed that it was a cloud made from steam that had risen from dead fish (Ziegler 4). Some believed that the placement of the planets was the cause of the plague (Ziegler 25). The medical department at the University of Paris told Phillip VI in a report in 1348, that the alignment of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars on March 20, 1345 was the cause of the plague (Ziegler 25).

A popular theory was that the plague was the wrath of God. This was supposedly brought on by sins (Bartel 62). Some sins were worse than others such as lust, pride, whoredom (Bartel 62).

There were also other theories.The Scottish people thought that the English were being punished for the terrible things they had done to the Scots in the past. So the Scots invaded England while it was weak, laughing at their enemies, until they, too, fell prey to the disease (Ziegler 159). The Jewish people were also blamed for the spread of the disease. Thousands of Jews were murdered as scapegoats (Ziegler 80).

Many supposed cures arose in response to the plague.Some believed that if they lived moderately, consumed the most delicate foods and wines, and abstained from sex, that their resistance to the plague would be higher (Herlihy 354). There were others that believed the exact opposite. They believed in heavy drinking, and lots of cheer and singing (Herlihy 354) to keep them safe. Still others chose to live their lives at an even keel, not too moderate, not too heavy (Herlihy 354). In Rowlings’ Everyday Life of Medieval travellers, she states that Flight became increasingly one of the commonest means adopted to escape from this dreaded disease (118).People also believed that if you burned fires, with stinkpots filled with various herbs and other natural ingredients, that it would correct the infectious air (Bartel 53).

Perfumes made from roots and oils was another popular cure that individuals used to clean the air (Bartel 54). According to Bartel, an internal cure was to take garlic with, butter, a clove, two or three, according as it shall agree with their bodies (54). Some doctors believed that pure water mixed with a great deal of salt was a cure (Bartel 55). Royalty got into the cure game with the King’s Majesty’s Excellent Receipt for the Plague and a drink for the plague prepared by Lord Bacon, and approved by Queen Elizabeth (Bartel 55). There were others called flagellants that walked the roads whipping themselves to ward off the plague (Wright 153). The reality according to Herlihy was that, In the cure of these illnesses, neither the advice of a doctor nor the power of any medicine appeared to help and to do any good (353).The Black Death killed about a third of Europe’s population.

The reign of terror lasted for twenty years in the fourteenth century (Cantor 477). This horrible disease killed young and old, rich and poor. The plague knew no boundaries.

Today we might think that the beliefs of the fourteenth century were barbaric and archaic, but it has only been in the last one hundred years that scientists and doctors have discovered the cause of the bubonic plague.Believing that the plague was caused by bad air, the planets positions or the Jews or that it could be cured with fire or herbs seemed logical to fourteenth century man although it may seem foolish to modern man. Works Cited Bartel, Roland, ed. London in Plague and Fire. BostonD.C. Heath and Company, 1957.

Blum, Jerome, Cameron, Rondo, and Barnes, Thomas G.The European World A History. BostonLittle, Brown and Company, 1970. Cantor, Norman. The Civilization of the Middle Ages. New York HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.Herlihy, David, ed.

Medieval Culture and Society. New York Walker and Company, 1968. Hindley, Geoffrey. The Medieval Establishment. New YorkG.P.

Putnam’s Sons, 1970. Matthew, Donald. Atlas of Medieval Europe. New YorkFacts on File, Inc., 1983. Rowling, Marjorie. Everyday Life of Medieval Travellers.

LondonB.T. Batsford LTD, 1971. Wright, Esmond, ed. The Medieval and Renaissance World. Secaucus, NJChartwell Books Inc.

, 1979.Ziegler, Phillip. The Black Death. Wolfeboro Falls, N.H.Alan Sutton Publishing, 1991.

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