Rats are pestiferous creatures that survive in the most obnoxious places ever. These rats are carriers of fleas that in turn are carriers of bacteria. These bacteria are not just your regular infection-causing agents, but those that cause plague. This is a very contagious infection, that soon takes the face of an epidemic.
One of the most horrific cases of plague that has left a mark in European history is the Black Death, also called black plague. This was not just an endemic, but a medieval pandemic. It is one of the major events in history, that caused death in epic proportions. Let's take a look at some of the black death facts that ravaged Europe during the middle ages.
Facts about the Black Death
Black death is a plague that was caused by bacteria Yersinia pestis. It is said, black death originated in Asia. It spread to Europe through merchant ships, infested with black rats and rodents. When a person was bit by these infectious black rats, it transferred the infection to humans from rodents.
It led to an infection with symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, painful and swollen lymph nodes. Within a few days of appearance of the plague symptoms, the patient died. The swollen lymph nodes (buboes) were red in color initially.
As the disease progressed, it turned dark purple to black in color. If the victim bled, the color of the blood was black in color, thick and had a very noisome smell. As the skin and blood turned black, the plague was known as Black Death.
There are three types of plague caused by Yersinia pestis. These include bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, and septicemic plague. The Black Death is suspected to be initiated as bubonic plague, where the lymph nodes (buboes) are swollen. The symptoms of bubonic plague were discussed earlier.
The pneumonic plague was the second most common plague of the Black Death. It spread through sneezing and coughing of infected humans as well as animals. The air droplets infected a large number of people as awareness about hygiene was not so common. It led to high fever and symptoms of pneumonia. The disease progressed rapidly causing death in most cases.
The septicemic plague was a rare disease, but did occur during the Black Death. The bacteria gained entry into the blood stream and multiplied manifold. It led to violent chills, fever, bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, even under the skin.
In some cases, it led to development of gangrene and death. These were a few black death facts that show us what type of infection affected the people of the medieval ages. Let us now dwell into a few more of the facts and figures.
Facts and Figures
Black death is said to have occurred between 1348 and 1350 Europe. It is said about 30 to 60% of the European population was killed due to the Black Death. This means approximately about 450 million people died in 1400 due to Black Death.
The plague has said to have appeared several times for over 150 years. There was an outbreak in China in 1328. It is reported the population of China came down to 90 million from 125 million in just 50 years due to the Black Death.
Black death is said to have first reached Bristol, England in 1348. Within a few days it reached London, as the great plague. Overpopulation lead to poor living conditions and thus, the disease spread easily. It is said, about 20,000 people died from the total population of 70,000 of London city.
It was said, anyone coming within 12 feet distance of an infected person was hanged to death as they could become carriers and spread the disease. Mortality rate for pneumonic plague was about 95% and septicemic plague had 100% mortality rate.
Black plague subsided after 1350, but resurfaced at various other places over time. It was last seen in 19th century after which it was said to have virtually vanished from Europe. The latest occurrences were recorded in 2003, where 180 deaths were reported in Africa.
In 2006, Democratic Republic of the Congo had 50 deaths due to plague. Many other countries like Mongolia, Vietnam, United States, India and China have reported cases of plague in the past decades.
Today, black death is curable with antibiotics and medications. It is very important to maintain sanitation and control rodents and rats. Plague can spread in cities even today, that are infested with rats.
Nowadays, a new fear has emerged, called bioterror. It is said the disease can be released in form of aerosol and spread pandemic across countries. If you dwell into history, you will find many facts about black death. During the middle ages, death danced upon Europe, wiping out more than half of its population.
Hope this information on black death facts has helped you learn some interesting information on this scary pandemic.