The Black Death Essay

1562 words - 7 pages

In October of 1347, one of the most devastating pandemics in human history began its spread across Europe, killing a large percentage of the population. This mysterious disease was known as The Black Death. It is believed that the Black Death was a bubonic plague; however, this cannot be the case, for rats were not the carriers of the disease. The Black Death was not a bubonic plague, but rather a pandemic caused by an Ebola-like virus.
Popular belief states rats caused the Black Death. Because people can become sick with the bubonic plague from fleas that are carried by an infected rodent like a rat, it is common for individuals to also believe the Black Death was caused by a bubonic plague. The common belief blames the rats for the origination of the disease since it is believed by many that the Black Death was a bubonic plague. The theory involving the rats spreading the Black Death caused by the bubonic plague is invalid in that rats are also killed by the bubonic plague. If a rat were carrying the plague, they would die off faster than they could spread the disease onward. This informs one that the Black Death was actually caused by an Ebola-like virus, instead of the bubonic plague, and the rats are not to blame at all (Paoli).
An Ebola virus is an extremely contagious virus causing a usually fatal hemorrhagic fever and spread through contact by person to person (“Ebola Virus”). These viruses can be spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, such as by coughing or sneezing, and by particles in the air (“Ebola Virus”). Thus, the answer as to what caused the spreading of the Black Death lies in the people themselves, as well as other sources.
Simple facts prove the rats could not be to blame for the spread of the Black Death. For one, historian and archaeologist Barney Sloane believes the disease spread so quickly that rats could not possibly transfer the bacteria (“Black Death Backtrack”). The Black Death spread at the high rate of approximately thirty miles every two or three days (Paoli). This rapid rate suggests the plague had to have been spread from person to person.
Another logical reasoning as to why the rats may be off the hook for causing the Black Death is the death count for rats did not seem to be affected by the pandemic. If the rats were carrying the infected fleas on them, then they too should have become sick. The fleas would only jump onto the humans, or another new food source, if their previous source had died (Paoli). Therefore, it is also expected that a high number of rats would die off if they were carrying the disease that affected the people and killed them off. The problem with this is there were no reports of a large number of dead rats during the time of the Black Death (Paoli). Archaeologist Barney Sloane found very little evidence of massive rat die off occurring with the Black Death (“Can We Stop”). Even in large cities where thousands of people passed away from the Black Death there is...

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