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Black Death - Impact of Disease

Essay by   •  May 28, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  2,602 Words (11 Pages)  •  934 Views

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Envision yourself on your own street corner, coughing up blood-spattered mucous each time you exhale. You are desperate for a full breath of air, but comprehending that is not possible; you give up your struggle to stay alive. You are thinking why is this transpiring to me? That is how the sufferers of the Black Death felt. The Black Death had many distinct effects on the people of the Middle Ages. "Scientists are still exploring the mysteries of one of the deadliest pandemics the world has ever known: the Black Death, the medieval disease outbreak that killed millions in Europe between 1347 and 1351. At the time, it was attributed to bad air--some kind of generalized pestilential miasma. Today, blame is believed to reside with Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes plague, though the historical pandemic was clearly more virulent and faster-spreading than any modern version of the disease. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the remains of 100 plague victims buried near London. It reveals that the Black Death was caused by a previously unknown variant of Y. pestis that no longer exists. But the multinational team has not yet found the specific genetic reason for the difference in plague virulence between then and now."

To realize the harshness of this tragic epidemic, one must understand a few things about the plague. You have to know what the Black Death is, the source of the plague, the indications, the distinctive effects it had on the people, and the preventions and treatments for the plague. The Black Death also recognized as the Black Plague or the Bubonic Plague, which came into contact in 1349, and again in 1361-62, devastated all of Europe to the magnitude of bringing dreadful death to numerous people of the Middle Ages. "Imagine a modern-day scourge capable of wiping out half of Europe's population. About 650 years ago, a plague known as the Black Death rolled steadily across Europe and the United Kingdom, killing as many as 50 million people (Buist, S., 2011)."

It was a sequence of bubonic, septicemia, and pneumonic plague tensions that began in the east and made its way west, but never left its innate home. Some of the things that made the plague one of the nastiest was that there were occurrences almost every ten years, but still limited to Europe. It is thought that one-third to one-half could have probably died by the plague, with some towns of a death level of up to 30 or 40 percent. Very few who were ill with the plague really survived more than one month after getting the disease. The Black Death was an unbelievable event that caused everyone on either a tangible level, sensitive level, or both.

The epidemic exhibited the situation in three unified forms. The bubonic variation (the most familiar) originates its name from the bulges or buboes that emerged on an injured party's neck, armpits or groin. These polyps could range in proportions from that of an egg to that of an apple. Still some endured the agonizing suffering, the look of these lesions mostly indicated the injured party had a life expectation of up to a week. Plague-ridden parasites that devoted themselves to rats and then to individuals spread this bubonic kind of plague. A second variation - pneumonic plague - infected the respiratory system and was spread by just breathing the exhaled air of a sufferer. It was much more infectious than its bubonic cousin; life expectancy was calculated in one or two days. Lastly, the septicemic type of the disease infected the blood system.

The Black Death was more horrific, and killed more people than any war on record. The plague was so horrendous and frightening that people said it made all other tragedies in the Middle Ages seems mild when relating it to the Black Death. There have been many arguments over what caused the Black Death, but only one is reinforced with the most indication. It is believed that on October of 1347, a Genoese fleet made its way into a port in northeast Sicily with a team that had sickness clinging to their very bones. The illness this team had, was not transported by men, but the rats and fleas onboard the ship. The harbor tried to curb the sickness by trying to isolate the fleet, but to no avail. Within six months of the docking of that very convoy, half of the area had either left the country, or passed away. That fleet, along with many other fleets along the Mediterranean Sea brought the ultimate natural catastrophe to the world. The verminous rat, called the black vessel rat, was carried in the baggage of wholesalers on board the ships roaming all over the Mediterranean. They did not know it, but it was the people that essentially spread the disease across the land.

"The life cycle of the plague can be partitioned into four stages. (1) Fleas feeding on an infected rat ingest the bacteria causing bubonic plague, and soon become infectious. (2) When an infected rat dies, its fleas leave to search for a new host. (3) The fleas usually find other rats, infect them, and so spread the disease through the rodent community. (4) Only when the density of rats is low are the fleas forced to feed on alternative hosts such as humans, and a human epidemic occurs (Keeling, M J and Gilligan C A., 2000)." The plague spread in a great curve across Europe, starting in the east in the Mediterranean Sea, and finishing up in northwest Germany. It is astonishing that the plague hit Europe numerous times, but still no one comprehended the causes or the remedies of the plague. Doctors at the University of Paris asserted that on March 20, 1345, at one o'clock in the afternoon, a combination of three higher planets Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars produced a corruption of the neighboring air, which made the air become lethal or contaminated. This is a highly improbable philosophy unless you are coming from an origin of Astrology. Another reason of the plague that scientists gave was environmental matters. These scientists believed that there were many earthquakes that caused poisonous fumes to come from the middle of the earth, which, again, transported contaminated air for the people. Certain historians have speculated if the plague could have been caused by overpopulation of the region, but they are not completely persuaded. Some people, perhaps out of anxiety, turned their ferocity on the Jews and accused them for the cause of the plague.

Whatever the reason was, you could tell from looking in an individual eye that, above every person hung the horror of the Black Death. Even though the Black Death was one of the largest epidemics ever recorded, it did not have many visible symptoms. The genuine warning signs varied in distinctive parts of the continent. The most normal signs were black tumors or boils on your neck, and the coughing up of blood. One thing concerning

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