SYMPTOMS OF THE BUBONIC PLAGUE
The Black Death is one of the most important events in Western history and is the most famous pandemic in all of human history. A pandemic is the term used to describe the spread of an infectious disease over a wide area including the entire planet. The Black Death occurred during the 14th century and ravaged human populations throughout Asia and Europe as it spread along trade routes and through trading ports. Throughout history it has also been referred to as the ‘Great Mortality’ and ‘Great Pestilence’.
The Black Death is the term that historians use to describe the spread of the bubonic plague. It is believed that the plague first began in Central Asia and spread to Europe through vast trade routes such as the Silk Road. Historians studying the spread of the plague discovered that the disease was spread by fleas that are commonly found on rodents such as rats and mice.
The lack of medical understanding during the time is evidenced by the remedies or cures that people believed would work. For instance, some believed that the plague was spread by “bad air” and thought that they could cleanse the air with the burning of incense. This belief led to doctors of the period wearing strange outfits with masks that looked like the beak of a bird. Believing that the plague was spread through the air, the doctors would fill the nose area of the mask with incense in order to overpower the “bad air”. However, it also served to mask the smell of death, which was a common reality due to the large number of dead.
In reality, the bubonic plague was spread when infected fleas from rodents bit human beings and the disease entered their bodies. As stated earlier, the plague had several main symptoms. The primary symptom was the black lumps that grew in the infected person’s armpits and groin. This was caused when the bacteria of the disease inflamed lymph nodes in the body. The lumps would become large and after a period of time would often ooze pus and blood. Another common symptom of the plague was gangrene fingers and toes. This meant that the disease killed the area around the fingers and toes and effectively caused them to die. As the disease took hold, several other symptoms were common including: fever, cramps, seizures, vomiting, extreme pain and difficulty breathing. Often, those that were infected died soon after in just a matter of days.
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