- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
*A WORLD FILLED WITH BLACK DEATH* - The Black Death (Plague)
The dark and deadly pandemic
For three horrifying years between 1348 - 1351 the black plague struck through Europe like lightning killing over millions of people. Grave yards were getting flooded with corpses that died during this pandemic.
Let's take a role back to history and see where it all started. In the year 1347 the Mongols attacked the city of Caffa hoping to take this city for themselves, but in the midst of all these the Mongols didn't know that a great dark enemy will be amongst them - the plague. With this knowledge they decided to catapult the dead bodies into the city and give the plague to their enemies and this was the spark that lead to the start of this pandemic. But we still don't exactly know how this deadly disease spread through Europe. Many historians believe that it might have been from the merchant ships that went sail to the sea from the island of Sicily and the ships that sailed from the black sea were bearing something most foul. Not long after it struck Messina, the Black Death spread to the port of Marseilles in France and the port of Tunis in North Africa. Many people tried to stop the ships and get rid of the people that were below the ship deck but it was already too late, the plague had taken over and death was starting to show it's toll.
The facts we should know!
This is no ordinary illness, it is a disgusting and yet foul sickness that will put its victims into the worst fever, chills and the swelling of the buboes - which is a swollen or inflamed node in the arm pits or groin area, and they become black and can be the size of an orange sometimes. It's spread very rapid, it can cause septic shock, your blood pressure will drop very rapidly and also will get multi-organ failure and you will also be hemorrhaging.
For more than a century the main theory has been that the plague was caused through the Bubonic plague caused by a bacteria called Yersinia Pestis, it's carried by fleas and it requires a particular environment for it to be grown. A single flea bite can infect the person with the bacteria and quickly multiply in the lymph nodes. Just for a clear heads up - there are three forms of this plague 1. Pneumonic, Septicemic and Bubonic. And to quickly explain these let's start with Pneumonic another form of the bacteria called Pneumonic Plague, which doesn't require any fleas for it to spread this deadly disease. The person can develop fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous. The Septicemic is more that the skin and other tissues may turn black and die, especially on fingers, toes, and the nose. Septicemic plague can occur as the first symptom of plague, or may develop from untreated bubonic plague. Last but not least the Bubonic plague which the patient can develop sudden a fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes. This form usually results from the bite of an infected flea and as with most infections if left untreated it can easily damage the other organs in the body.
Ok...so now going back to the history and facts. In some cases the disease will go to your lungs and begin growth, and if you cough and also have hemorrhaging in the lungs, then you are 1. infectious and 2. can spread the disease through your cough droplets to another person. Around two-thirds of the victims died within three or four days of developing symptoms. Most of the rest lingered about two weeks and then died. Note that an infected person could be a carrier of the disease for a few days before any symptoms manifested at all, which made quarantine difficult. Doctors refused to see patients; priests refused to administer last rites. Shopkeepers closed stores. Many people fled the cities for the countryside, but even there they could not escape the disease.
The plague - Pneumonic
By around 1348 the plague had already spread through Spain killing more than 50% of the population. Let's imagine that a sailor working at the docks being bit by an infectious flea, they would get on their ship and would be able to travel and wouldn't be sick for 2-6 days, so there was a potential for moving around before becoming ill. Well of course these ships can have rats and fleas on them and when they get off, they can go and infect other people across the city. By Aug. 1348 the plague reaches Paris and half of its population will die, during which it also traveled to Bordeaux and during that time the princess Jone had returned from her travel to the sea. During this time within a 6week period around 11,000 people had been buried from the plague.
So the interesting thing about this is that because of the fact that they did not understand the biology of the disease, many people believed that the Black Death was a kind of divine punishment for sins against God such as greed, blasphemy, fornication and worldliness. They thought that they only way out of this plague was to win God’s forgiveness.
So either the disease was such that no treatment was possible or the doctors were so ignorant that they did not know what caused it, and could not administer the proper remedy for this deadly disease.
The plague Doctors
The plague & the economy
People started to worry and many other started to get away. The people who were not yet infected would shut themselves up in houses where there were no sick, eating the finest food and drinking the best wine very temperately, avoiding all excess, allowing no news or discussion of death and sickness, and passing the time in music.
The Black Plague accelerated the demise of the feudal system of government. The disease hit rural farm workers hard, so labor became scarce. According to the laws of economics, wages would then go up. Landowners had to offer their workers special incentives to stay and work the land, or they would get up and run off to work for another lord down the road. The aristocracy would grant charters to communities, or release peasants of traditional demands and taxes, or even (OMG) pay them actual money for their work. This ultimately encouraged the rise of a prosperous middle class. That was a long-term benefit to the survivor's grandchildren, however
The symptoms - The Doctors
The Black Death
The plague is a serious and deadly disease that can cause sudden death and can infect other people very rapidly. Worldwide, WHO - (World Health Organization) reports around 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague each year. If you are experiencing symptoms like those listed in this article, seek immediate medical attention, visit the ER for treatment! Certain recommendations are given from the CDC - Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They are that an individuals in areas where the plague is found MUST protect themselves by wearing long pants and using insect repellent on clothing and skin. The CDC also recommends protecting pets from fleas, and removing anything that can be a food source for rodents, such as garbage and clutter.
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© 2015 Mahsa S