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The Bubonic Plague, Then And Now: Is It Still A Threat?

4264 words - 18 pages

The Bubonic Plague has proven to be one of the most devastating diseases ever known to man. The plague, also known as the Great Pestilence , ran rampant throughout Asia and Europe during the Middle Ages. The population of these affected peoples tried many different things to cure the illness, most to no avail. Though the causes were unknown at the time, there is now an understanding of what caused the disease and how to treat it. Through this paper, I will examine the cause of the disease, the signs and symptoms, the history of the plague through the Middle Ages, cures of yesterday, cures of today, and how likely it is that the plague will affect us again.Part I: Middle Ages and the ...view middle of the document...

When one of these infected fleas bites a human, they then infect their subject to the plague virus. Though this is not the only way the plague is spread, but it is believed that this was the way it was spread to those first troops.Signs of the PlagueThe plague has many symptoms. The first are a headache, nausea, vomiting, and general feelings of ill health, a lot like the flu. According to an eyewitness from this time, signs of impending death were the following:The symptoms were not the same as in the East, where a gush of blood from the nose was the plain sign of inevitable death; but it began both in men and women with certain swellings in the groin or under the armpit. They grew to the size of a small apple or an egg, more or less, and were vulgarly called tumors. In a short space of time these tumors spread from the two parts named all over the body. Soon after this the symptoms changed and black or purple spots appeared on the arms or thighs or any other part of the body, sometimes a few large ones, sometimes many little ones. These spots were a certain sign of death, just as the original tumor had been and still remained.The black and purple spots that appeared were called buboes, hence the name Bubonic Plague. These buboes were similar to bruises and black or another dark color, deriving yet another nickname of the plague, the Black Death.Plague SpreadsThe illustration shown below, provided by Lynn Harry Nelson, a professor at the University of Kansas, shows how the plague was spread.Ibid 3As one can see, from the Black Sea, it was carried throughout the Mediterranean to Spain where it then rampaged throughout France. From France, the Plague traveled north into present day Germany and eventually across the English Channel to England and Ireland and across the Baltic to Sweden, Norway, and Finland. It should also be noted how similar the plague routes coincided with trade routes, proving that as traders went their way, they brought the plague with them.Medieval CausesThere were many theories to why the plague started. Many of these theories stem from the Christian thoughts of God was punishing the people of Europe. Because of this belief, the sick and dying flocked to monasteries to give riches and gold in hopes for God's forgiveness. The townspeople would throw these things over the walls, yelling, crying and praying. The priests and monks that lived there were scared of getting sick, so the riches just piled up, some piles reaching up to five feet! These piles remained there for months, some say even years because of the fear that the plague "germs" were all over them.Europe during the time of the first plague was predominantly Catholic. These people were already very prejudiced against both Muslims and Jews. Therefore, many Europeans blamed these two religions for starting the plague. However, while it was not on the same degree as Catholic death, the Jewish and Muslim populations were also dying from the disease. To alleviate this...

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