Plague Bacillus Yersinia Pestis Essay

1331 words - 5 pages

Identification and Prevention of What Makes Life “Nasty, Brutish, and Short”

Plague is caused by the bacterium bacillus Yersinia pestis, and is carried by rodents, fleas, and mammals. Plague takes three forms: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. Bubonic plague affects the lymph glands, while the pneumonic and septicemic forms affect the lungs and the blood. Today, plague can be prevented by antibiotics and strict public health measures. Three methods of controlling carriers involve sanitizing the environment, educating the public on how to prevent exposure, and using prophylactic antibiotics.
“O happy posterity, who will not experience such abysmal woe and will look upon our testimony as a fable,” wrote the Florentian Renaissance author Francesco Petrarch to a friend in the midst of the Black Plague (Benedictow 3). Indeed, the Black Plague and its timeless infamy define when life was nasty, brutish, and short.
Between 1346 and 1353, the Black Plague cast its dismal shadow over Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Asia. The plague also recurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in huge pandemics in Asia, and continues to be a threat today. The agent of plague, the bacterium bacillus Yersinia pestis, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected fleas. Yersinia pestis is carried in the circulatory systems of chipmunks, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, mice, and other mammals. The plague is spread among humans by the inhalation of coughs of plague pneumonia. Although it is tempting to dismiss this pathogen as only active in outbreaks like the Black Death, and despite that the medical community found solutions to plague, plague continues to threaten those who live in areas of poor housing and sanitation conditions and thriving rat and rat flea populations. Although the disease usually occurs in animal communities, it also affects a few people at a given time under most environmental conditions.
Yersinia pestis belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae, a family of Gram-negative, cocobacillus, rod-shaped bacteria. This anaerobic and intracellular agent (“CRBNE – Plague”) of plague primarily affects rodent populations on every continent except Australia.
Plague takes three forms, in which Yersinia pestis is the same agent: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. The bubonic plague, through which Yersinia pestis affects the lymph nodes, is transmitted to humans usually by the bite of an infected rodent flea (Kool, J.). This variety is identified by a sudden attack of high fever, chills, general discomfort, muscular pain, severe headache, and most of all, the buboe. The buboe, from which comes “bubonic,” is a smooth and painful swelling of the lymph glands that takes place mainly in the groin, but can also occur in the armpits or neck. The symptoms appear usually two to five days after exposure to Yersinia pestis. Although it is the least dangerous of the varieties, the bubonic plague constitutes three-fourths of all plague...

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