Black Death summary/History/Features/current existence

The Black Death is a disease transmitted by a bacterium. It was a pandemic in part of Europe during the Middle Ages , particularly in the 14th century. It is estimated to have killed millions of people and is considered one of the greatest pandemics recorded in world history. Black Death summary

The disease – which is also called the bubonic plague – is spread by the yersinia bacteria. The main means of transmission is through the bite of fleas that live on rat species.

History of the Black Plague

Probably the disease originated in the region of Mongolia and reached the European continent through Italy. The first known cases occurred in Crimea in the year 1346. During this period, Mongols and Genoese were fighting in the region of Caffa.

The greater spread of the plague was due to the large circulation of ships at the time, infected with rats contaminated by the disease. Black Death summary

The intense flow of ships and the rapid contamination and manifestation of symptoms (such as spots and blisters on the skin) caused the plague to become a pandemic in a short time, spreading a large part of the region’s population. Estimates show that approximately one third of the population lost their lives as a result of the Black Death.

At that time, there was not much medical knowledge about the disease and how to contain its rapid spread, which contributed to the high number of victims.

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Later, when maritime movement had already been reduced to stop the advance of the pandemic, the disease had already spread to several cities and continued to spread and claim fatalities.

The lack of information at the time made it difficult to understand the causes and force of the spread of the plague and this made many people believe that the disease was a kind of “divine punishment”. Black Death summary

the waning of the plague

It is not known for sure what were the reasons that led to the decrease in cases of the disease, in mid-1353. It is believed that it is due to the large number of deaths and the habit of isolating the sick. These measures may have hampered the transmission of the disease-causing bacteria;

However, the disease did not completely disappear. During the following years, to a lesser extent, new occurrences of the Black Death were recorded in some regions of Europe.

The Doctors of the Black Death

Doctors who treated patients infected with the Black Death became known as plague doctors . Cities that were very affected hired doctors – often inexperienced – to meet the demand of these places.

Due to the rapid manifestation and worsening of the symptoms of the disease, most of the time, despite medical care, the victims could not resist the plague.

A curious fact is that, to avoid contamination itself, plague doctors wore a mask similar to a bird’s beak. It contained a mixture of aromatic herbs to avoid contamination.

But the use of the mask was not very efficient as, later, it was discovered that the transmission of the plague happened through the bite of fleas and not through the air. Black Death summary

In addition to the mask, the doctors also wore a special outfit with glasses, cape, boots, hat and gloves.

Features of the Black Death

The main features of the Black Death are:

  • was an outbreak that hit much of Europe during the 14th century,
  • is considered the first major global pandemic ,
  • transmission was believed to occur through fleas (they transmitted the disease to humans) and rats (carried the bacteria),
  • the most common symptoms were: fever, vomiting and changes in the size of the nodes,
  • the disease spread quickly,
  • at least 25 million people died from the disease at that time. Black Death summary

Does the Black Death still exist?

Contrary to what many people may think, the Black Death still exists. Of course, nowadays the disease no longer spreads in the same way as it did in the Middle Ages, but occasionally cases of contamination are still recorded.

The transmission of the disease can happen in two ways: through the bite of fleas infected by the bacteria or through coughing.

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What are the symptoms of the Black Death?

The main symptoms of contamination can be:

  • fever,
  • headache,
  • body aches,
  • seasickness,
  • vomit,
  • lack of appetite,
  • swollen nodes.

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