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During the fourteenth century a horrible plague spread across Asia, Europe, and Great Britain. This plague is referred to as the black death. Many people are not quite sure why the disease was given the name. The most popular reason why it might be called the black death is because it left purplish, blackish blotches on the bodies of the sick. But if the name of the epidemic had been derived primarily from the appearance of its victims, one would have expected it to have been used at the time.
Of this there is no evidence. (Zeiger 17). Step by step, I am going to take you on the journey the black death took, from where it started, what it did, and when it ended. Bacillus yersinia pestis is the bacteria that lived in the blood streams of medieval rats and their fleas. Some time in the late 1340 s the bacteria made its way from rats to warm blooded mammals like humans.
Due to earthquakes and other environmental occurrences, medieval rats were forced to cross the paths of humans. They first got on board of ships at ports, then headed to cities where they spread the disease. It was not the rats that spread the disease, but it was their fleas that bit humans and infected them. There was three forms of the plague; bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemia. Each form had different symptoms. The most common form, called bubonic, is characterized by the formation of egg-sized swellings at the site of the flea bite, usually located in the armpits, groin, or neck. (Wark).
Which ever form someone contracted they died a disgusting death within days. Their whole body would get covered with nasty blotches of blood under their skin, and any fluid excreted from their body contained an unbearable stench. Florence, Italy was a very hard hit area because it was located right on the Arno River where ships would dock to import and export goods. It was estimated that between 45, 000 and 65, 000 Florentine's died from the plague. New cemeteries had to be consecrated quickly to receive all the dead bodies. (Carmichael 110). With so many people dieing, some tried to write their friends from other countries and warn them with what to look for.
Others tried out running the it when it turns out all they were doing was spreading it. After conquering Florence, the plague moved towards England where it killed off fifty percent of the population in London. In the end, the black death made its way through Asia, Italy, France, North Africa, Spain, Normandy, Hungry, England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and as far as Greenland. It lasted four years, from 1346 - 1350. The total death toll is not truly none, but it has been estimated to be around twenty million victims. Strongly damaging the economy and population, the epidemic changed the world forever.
There is only one good thing that has come out of this tragedy. Bacillus yersinia pestis, the bacteria that started the black death, attacks the body almost the same way that the current disease AIDS does, and the survivors of the black death may have past on genes that make people immune to AIDS. Bibliography: Zeiger, Ed. The Black Death. Brewer Inc.
New York, 1967.
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Research essay sample on Bacillus Yersinia Pestis Spread The Disease Death