When we think of disasters, world changing events, what is the first to come to mind? Wars, maybe, disasters because they are the most often experience. However, what about a much smaller one, one that has the potential to turn ugly quick and one we inhale and walk through every day but do not see; a little something just waiting for the right opportunity to attack. In many ways, the most dangerous and ruthless enemies may be closer than we think. In fact, they could be in your very own home, maybe on that pencil lying on the table. These potential enemies are bacteria. Through the course of history, there have been many epidemics that have literally changed the world. Influenza, smallpox, and yellow fever are just a few examples, but there is one that has proved to be far deadlier and more devastating than any other: the plague. Others might know it as The Great Mortality, The Pestilence, or the Pest (Barnard 4). This microscopic creature started a crisis of the late middle ages that brought entire ruling powers to their knees. It caused social and political systems turmoil and to stifle and tested morals and religious principles (Gottifred The Black Death). It killed 50% of its victims and in the end 25 million people, one-fourth of Europe’s population, were gone (Walker 1) all in a matter of twenty-one years, 1331 to 1357. The plague was a devastating epidemic that not only killed millions of people but also destroyed entire civilizations.
There are three strains of the plague: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic (Snell the Black Death) and they are all considered a zoonotic disease meaning they affect mostly animals (Altman 1). The plague was first discovered in 1849 by a student named Alexander Yersin. He discovered that all three plague strains originate from the same bacterium Yersin Pestis (Health.com) which he named after himself (Barnard 6).
The first plague to spread was the bubonic plague because it traveled through flea bites (Health.com). Symptoms include pain and swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin. Also shaking chills and fevers occur (Altman 1). Compared to the other two forms, bubonic was the least deadly, but that did not mean victims would survive.
The pneumonic plague was next, the second most deadly. This little pest spread fast because it hid in coughs and sneezes. The real danger comes from the “breakdown” of lymph nodes making the plague bacteria spread straight to the lungs causing pneumonia (Altman 1). Almost instantly it will cause fever, weakness and shortness of breath. Of it was not treated, with what little medicine they had, “rapid” death was inevitable (Health.com).
Finally, the most deadly form of plague was septicemic. This spreads through contact with open sores (Snell Medieval History) and travels right into the bloodstream (Heath.com). Red spots will appear all over the skin eventually turning black indicating that part of the skin is dead (Themiddleages.com). Also, victims...