Black Death - The Worst Disease Outbreak in Human History

August 05, 2018
The Black Death was one of the deadliest diseases ever recorded in human history. It had spread to Europe from 1346 to 1353 which killed millions. This sickness was a threat to families and towns and it soon spread to Western Europe in 1347 and in England in 1348. It lessened in the early 1350s. Then it couldn’t spare the eastern Mediterranean and Italy, Spain and France.
All the classes of society old and young, men and women, royalty and peasants, archbishops, monks, nuns and parish clergy were all affected by this deadly thing. This had created shortages of people to till the land and tend cattle and sheep.

The symptoms included swellings – most commonly in the groin, armpits and neck; dark patches, and the coughing up of blood. In Europe within three or four years, 50 million people died, hence reducing the population from some 80 million to 30 million. It killed at least 60 per cent of the population in rural and urban areas.

What remedies were used?

People somehow thought and believed that the disease was a curse from God and this led them to prayers and religious rites. Some even conceived the idea of running far away from the plague. Boccaccio’s Decameron is a series of tales that records a group of young people taking shelter from the Black Death outside Florence.  Utter blind faith!

There wasn’t a ready made remedy, but people searched for medicines.  The plague bacteria were identified in Asia in the 1890s, ands so the connection with animals and fleas was identified too.

What caused this castastrophe?

Are rats to be blamed? Many thought so.  This is probably because their fleas can foster the plague microbes. But a new study suggests researchers have given those rats too much blame. Human fleas, not rat fleas, are to be blamed for the Black Death.

Scientists have suspected that rat fleas might not have played a big role in the Black Death, says Michael Antoli, biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Antoin explains that even if rats played a role in the Black Death, they cannot be counted as the biggest factor. People didn’t live hygienic and clean enough lives. They didn’t wash often and there were no modern sewers. This made room for rats and mice to make their living. If only there were hard roofs and clean floors they wouldn’t ultimately attract rats and mice. As a result, there would be less of the diseases passed on to human fleas. The environmental conditions created by the humans allowed rats, fleas and lice to spend so much time around people and this clearly played the larger role in the disease.

What stops plague isn’t medicine or killing rats, Antolin says. “Sanitation is what fixes plague.”  

Post Written by -  Adap Immanuel Teron

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