Bubonic Plague

This essay has a total of 1125 words and 5 pages.


Bubonic Plague
The Bubonic plague is a contagious disease, which can reach epidemic
proportions, transmitted to humans by the fleas of an infected rat. The most
telltale sign of the plague is the enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, armpit, or
neck. The name for the Bubonic plague originated from the name for the swollen
lymph nodes: Buboes. The disease is also called the Black Death. The reason for
this nickname might have been the black spots on the skin or the purplish tint
on an infected person's skin. The Black Death is known as the most fatal
disease of the middle ages. The bacteria called Yersinia Pestis causes the
disease. The whole cycle begins with an infected rat. A rat flea (Xenopsylla

Cheopis) bites the rat and the bacteria fills the stomach of the flea completely
full. This makes it so the flea cannot digest any blood. The flea becomes so
overwhelmingly hungry that it sucks blood into its already full stomach. This
causes the flea to vomit, thus spreading the bacteria. The first symptoms of
infection are headaches, nausea, vomiting, and aching joints. As the disease
progresses, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, high fever (101 to 105 degrees), and
prostration occur. The bacteria may also invade the lungs in a form of the
plague, pneumonic plague. Pneumonic plague is rapidly fatal and can be
transmitted from person to person. Death may occur within about four days for
bubonic plague, less for pneumonic plague. The mortality rate for pneumonic
plague is nearly 100%, while bubonic plague is 50-75%. The first appearances of
this disease may have occurred in 542 AD, but the first major outbreak did not
occur until the 14th century. In Europe, this outbreak killed one third of

Europe's population--25 million people--in only 5 years. In the late 1340s,
native people of China began dying from a mysterious illness. A couple years
later, several Italian merchants returned from a trip to the Black Sea, ill from
this mysterious disease. Rats escaped from the ship and the plague rapidly
spread to the city, then the countryside, and eventually the majority of Europe.

Death was everywhere; in some cities, the dead outnumbered the living. The
plague caused drastic changes for many people. Because of all the deaths, there
were serious labor shortages. Workers demanded higher wages, but landlords
refused. These conflicts caused peasant revolts in England, France, Belgium, and

Italy. Even the whole idea of death changed. Death was no longer represented by
heavenly beings, but rather as an elderly woman with a black cloak and wild,
snakelike hair. It was during the Bubonic plague that anger toward the Roman

Catholic Church intensified and the persecution of Jews intensified. As the
number of church clergy increased, many individuals began to suspect the Church
officials were responsible for the spread of the Bubonic Plague. With the goal
of dispelling this new fear of the clergy, a group of people called"flagellants" emerged.
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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