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A Plane Ride Away: The Threat Of The Plague

2409 words - 10 pages

TITLE: A Plane Ride Away: The Threat of Modern Plague

I. Introduction
a. Brief History
i. Eyewitness Quote from Boccaccia
ii. Devastation of 14th Century Europe
b. No longer dormant
c. Thesis: Though the Black plague was prevalent in history past, it is by no means extinct. The bubonic plague is still a threat to our modern world and has physical, economic and global consequences.
II. Body - Middle Age and Modern consequences
a. Physical characteristics and consequences
i. Middle Ages
1. Physical symptoms
2. Fatality rate – near 100% and untreatable
a. Superstitious remedies
b. Flaggelants
ii. Modern
1. Treatable, but if untreated, still fatal
2. But new strains are ...view middle of the document...

” These words, spoken by Italian eyewitness Boccaccio, are in regard to the bubonic/black plague that obliterated Europe in the fourteenth century. Boccaccio recounts the pandemonium and chaos that ensued amid the rapid transmission of this plague just prior to the Renaissance. Friends and family turned against one another – abandoning one another in search of safety. Others, who took a more doomsday approach, thought that since they would die anyway, they should eat, drink and be merry (as well as loot and steal). Though the Black Plague was prevalent and destructive in history past, it is by no means extinct. The bubonic plague is still a threat to the modern world and has physical, economic and global consequences.
The bubonic plague has physical consequences, the gravest of which, is death. In Medieval times, there was no treatment and so the death rate of those infected was nearly one hundred percent. One historian writes: “No disease in recorded history has carried the totemic power of plague. No disease has erupted with such violence and with such brutal efficiency, nor remained so poorly understood for so long. It was plague that destroyed one-third of Europe's population during the Black Death of the Middle Ages; plague that swept through London in 1665; plague that killed some ten million Indians in the first two decades of the 20th century” (Marriott 42). And the black death of the past was no respecter to gender, race, trade or socioeconomic status. It touched all strata of society. Clearly, history has proven the devastating effects of the bubonic plague so that even today when it is mentioned, people seem to cringe.
The symptoms of the bubonic plague are painful swellings of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm or groin area. These lumps are called Buboes. Because the blood vessels hemorrhage and break under the skin, dark blisters and blotches would appear on the skin. This is where the nickname, “Black Death” or the Black Plague came from. A high fever, severe headaches as well as aching back and legs would also accompany this disease. From the fever to the death was only three or four days. Because of the swiftness of death, as well as the deformed appearance of the inflicted, the “black death” was especially terrifying.
The Yersinia Pestis bacteria, which causes the deathly symptoms, is spread by fleas on rats. Rats flourished in the unsanitary conditions of pre-Renaissance Europe, so the rats in close contact with humans, easily spread the disease. When the flea, which already has a full stomach, continues to suck blood on a new subject, they regurgitate the disease from their stomachs into the new carrier. This is what spreads the bacteria (Walker, 132).
There were superstitious remedies to the physical symptoms of the black plague. Because of the lack of poor understanding of the spread of infectious diseases, most of the beliefs about its cause had to do with religion. Most people had a sense that God...

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