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A Comparison Of Three Pandemics: Their Cause, Impact On Society, And Mortalities

1243 words - 5 pages

When one brings up the three diseases: Spanish flu, Black Plaque, and AIDS, what comes to mind? Is it the fact that each of them has killed millions? Or, that they each came at different periods of time on earth? I would like to compare the agents of each particular disease and portions of the world that was affected by these pandemics as well. Additionally, I would like to discuss the symptoms, cures, and potential cures for these diseases.
The Black Death started in the fourteenth century. Relative to world population, it was by far the worst plague. Roughly one-third of the earth’s inhabitants died from it. Europe in particular suffered the most, losing sixty percent of its population (Benedictow, 2005). It is supposed to have started in Asia and spread to Europe and Africa from there. The world knew much about it by the time it had run its course.
It was started by a bacterium called Yersinia Pestis (ibid). This germ inhabits fleas which in turn inhabit rodents, particularly the black rat. That leads to the impossibility of its total eradication since these pests reproduce quickly and are spread over the entire world. The Black Death could be defined as a particularly dangerous zoonotic disease or a plague.
The pandemic spread very quickly from nation to nation by boats that carried infected rats. Historians and scientists are sure that it was the fleas that spread the disease since unlike other epidemics, the infection spread during the summer months when rats could travel (ibid). Ordinarily, diseases spread most rapidly during the summer months.
Symptoms of the infection include puss filled boils, headaches, and bleeding under the skin. The most prominent of these symptoms were the buboes, the swelling of lymph nodes. This led to the Black Death being called the Bubonic Plague. This disease is believed to have caused fifty million deaths by the time it had run its course (ibid).
The Spanish flu had a few similarities to the Bubonic Plague but otherwise was very different. It spread quickly and could not be isolated well since it was a virus. Unlike the other pandemics, this sickness did not get as much publication since it happened during the war. Molly Billings stated the following concerning its deaths:
The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as the World War I (WWI) … It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history.
According to John M. Barry, the United States’ government tried to hide the epic proportions of this pandemic (Barry, 2009). The administrations of other countries wanted to hide the extent of its spread to keep the morale of their people up. Spain, however, was neutral during the war and did not need to hide the alarming facts of influenza within its borders. The news in that country was full of the horrors of the flu. Their openness about its effects probably led to its being named after their people.
It soon spread to the majority of...

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