Bubonic Plague

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Bubonic plague has had a major impact on the history of the world. Caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, and transmitted by fleas often found on rats, bubonic plague has killed over 50 million people over the centuries. Burrowing rodent populations across the world keep the disease present in the world today. Outbreaks, though often small, still occur in many places. The use of antibiotics and increased scientific knowledge first gained in the 1890s have reduced the destruction of plague outbreaks. In Medieval times, with the unknowing help of humans, bubonic plague exploded into a pandemic. Known as the ³Black Death², it decimated Europe in 1350, killing 1/3 of the population. It disrupted government, trade, and commerce. It reshaped people¹s perspectives on life and Christianity, and found expression in many works of art. Bubonic plague¹s influence and effects have shaped events of the past and part of our world today.
What is the name of the disease?
Bubonic plague came by its name because of the symptoms of the disease. Bubonic plague causes very painful, swollen lymph nodes, called buboes. These swollen lymph nodes are often first found in the groin area, which is "boubon" in Latin. This disease became associated with the term "plague" because of its widespread fatality throughout history. Bubonic plague was also known as the "Black Death" in Medieval times. This is because the dried blood under the skin turns black.
What is/are the causative agent(s)?
Bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. It is also known as Pasteurella pestis. Other Pasteurella bacillus cause diseases such as tuberculosis.
How is the disease transmitted?
Plague is caused by an infection with Yersian pestis, which is a bacterium carried by rodents and transmitted by fleas found in parts of Asia, Africa, and North and South America. The Oriental Rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) is the most efficient carrier of plague, but other species of fleas (ex. Nosopsyllus fasciatus, Xenopsylla brasiliensis, Pulex irritaus) can also pass the disease on to humans. Overall, 100 species of fleas are known to be infected by the plague bacillus. Plague is transmitted to humans in two ways:
-Mostly by being bitten by an infected flea
-Sometimes from exposure to plague infected t...

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... Hygiene Institute in Tokyo, proved that fleas taken from infected rats contain plague bacilli. A.W. Bacot then suggested that fleas might be the carriers of the disease and infected animals while attempting to draw blood. In 1897, P.L. Simond proved that fleas transmitted plague. The clue that led to this discovery were the bites on the legs of victims. They appeared as small grayish spots and the presence of these bites always brought about the bubonic swelling in the affected region of the body. W.M.W. Haffkine created a vaccine made of killed broth cultures of the plague bacillus.
What is in store for the future?
Bubonic plague will continue to inflict humans for a long time to come because of plague¹s presence in so many burrowing rodents. Sporadic human cases associated with wild rodents occur annually in the western United States. In 1992 human plague cases were reported in Brazil, China, Madagascar, Mongolia, Myanmar, Peru, the United States, Vietnam, and Zaire. Major outbreaks in India have occurred as late as 1994. As long as plague infested rodents can come into close contact with human habitats, outbreaks of bubonic plague will continue to appear across the world.
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