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Bubonic Plauge Essay, Research Paper

Midway Paper


There have been many devestating occurances over the years. One of the most

devestating times ever in history was the Bubonic Plague also known as Black Death .

There have been three major breakouts of Bubonic plague in history. The first outbreak

was known as the Plague of Jstinian (542-543). It killed 70,000 in the city of

Constaniople in two years. The plague followed trade routes to France and Italy. Smaller

outbreaks occured for an additional 52 years. Before this time, bubonic plague had been

unknown in the Mediterranean. The Byzantine emperor Justinian (ruled, 527-565) was

attempting to reestablish the Roman Empire and was close to completing his dream. The

outbreak of plague destroyed his dream. The second major outbreak of bubonic plague,

and the most devestating, occurred in Europe in 1346-50. Known as the Black Death,

bubonic plague spread across Asia and Europe. By the end of 1348, plague covered all of

Italy and most of France. It crossed over the Alps, and spread to Switzerland. England

was reached in August, and it spread to Scottland, Ireland, Denmark, and most of

Germany. By 1351, the plague reached Russia. The Black Death killed about 1/3 of

theh population of Europe, or 25 million people. In 4 years it resulted in more deaths than

the plague of Justinian did in 50 years. Government, trade, and commerce in Europe

almost came to a stop. The plague caused the depopulation of about 1,000 villages in

England. The plague reduced the amount of landunder cultivation due to death of many

laborers. The Roman Catholic Church lost some of it s influence as people moved to

mysticism and other spiritual expressions. Many of the Jews were masacred because they

were blamed for the plague. There were other reoccurences of the plague in 1361-63,

1369-71, 1390, and also 1400. Another big outbreak was the Great Plague of Londen in

1665 which killed 17,440 out of the total population of 93,000. But a fire that burned

most of the city ended the outbreak. The third major outbreak of Black Death in history

started in Manchuria in 1890, reaching San Francisco in 1900. By the time the plague had

begun to die out, it killed 12,597,789 people primarily in India and Asia. This just shows

how the Bubonic Plague had a major impact on history. In Medevil times with the

unknowing help of humans, the plague exploded into a huge epidemic.

The Bubonic Plague got it s name because of the symptoms. Bubonic Plague

causes very painful, swollen lymph nodes, called buboes . The swollen lymph nodes are

often first found in the groin area. The disease became associated with the term plague

because of it s widespread fatality throughout history. The Plague is caused by an

infection called Yersian Pestis, which is a bacterium carried by rodents and then

transmitted by fleas found in parts of Asia, Africa, North America, and South America.

The Oriental Rat Flea is the most efficent carrier of the plague, but other types of fleas can

also pass the disease onto humans. The plague is transmitted to humans in two different

ways: Being bitten by an infected flea, and sometimes being exposed to plague infected

tissue. The incubation period of the plague is from 2 to 6 days of exposure. Between

disease outbreaks, the plague bacterium exists among certain rodent populations without

causing them much illness. These animals are long-term reservoirs of infection.

The symptoms of the plague; once the bacterium (Yersinia Pestis) enters the

bloodstream, it then travels to the liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and brain. Early symptoms

include vomiting, headache, shivering, giddiness, intolerence to light, pain in the back and

limbs,and a white coating on the tounge. Eventually the pain begins to occur in the groin,

armpits, and the neck because all of these areas contain lymph nodes. Later, there is

painful swelling of the lymph nodes. Hard lumps then begin to appear on the inner thigh,

neck, and armpit areas. Blood vessels then begin to break causing internal bleeding. Soon

the dried blood under the skin begins to turn black. Yersinia Pestis(the bacterium that

causes the plague) in autopsies, has been found in the periodical sac, spleen, liver, lymph

nodes, and bone marrow. If untreated, the plague mortality rate is very high (up to 75%).

Once a person is infected and recovers, they become immune.

The Bubonic Plague occurs primarly in areas where ther are large communities of

burrowing rodents. Major areas of Bubonic Plague reservoirs (rodents) are in China,

Eastern and Southern Africa, the Western United States, and parts of Bolivia, Peru,

Zcuador, and Brazil. Human infection usually occur in areas of unsanitary living

conditions where humans live in close contact with rats. Rural areas outside of the cities,

where conditions are poor and the acess to antibiotics is scarce, usually are the focus of

where the plague outbreaks occur.

There are methods avaliable for prevention. The Bubonic Plague has a vaccine,

and it last about 6 months. Currently, plague vaccines are not avaliable in the U.S., but a

new vaccine is being worked on and could be licensed soon. Travelers to plague infested

areas should take prophylaxic antibiotics. The perferred antibiotic for prophylaxis is either

tetracycline or doxycycline, and for children 8 years of age or less, sulfonamides. If you

happen to get the plague, if it is caught early, it is easily treated. The most effective way

to prevent plague is better sanitary conditions and precautions. Some precautions include;

controlling rat populations by using rodenticide. Effective insecticides should be used to

control the flea population that tranmits plague to humans and rodents. Ships should be

fumigated with hydrocyanic gas before arriving to port. Conditions around human

dwellings should be made more sanitary, diminishing the food and shelter for rodents.

Also seperate facilities should be used for livestock. And those patients with plague

should be isolated as soon as they are diagonesed. But the improvment of bubonic plague

prevention has evolved over the centuries. The people of the 14th century were

uneducated and susceptible to superstitions. Some of their earlier treatments included;

Bathing in human urine, wearing of excrement, placing dead animals in homes, use of

leeches, and drinking molden gold and powdered emeralds.

Though the Black Death was a major influence throughout history and cause many

deaths, with the advanced technology we have today, it can now be stopped. I have

learned a lot about this terrible disease. The Plague destroyed many lives, economies,

government, and much more. This research did infact help me understand how it started,

what to look for, and how to prevent it. I found in researching this topic, that there are

thousands of things to look at, but you cannot use all of them. But there is nothing I

would change about the effort and effectiveness I had done. I was very productive,

though I could use to work on my typing ability. But overall, I feel that this is very well

written, and researched. I have learned a pluthera of great information on this topic.

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