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Little Killer

Good Essays
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...

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...was over, but small outbreaks continued to pop up and survivors lived in constant fear of its return.

In many ways, it can be disturbing to realize something so small can hold so much power, that a tiny creature “can expose the fragility of human society.” With just enough stress, the most compact and unwavering societies can break (Barnard 4). The plague was horrible and left behind only broken and shattered remains of a different time. In a lighter side, this taught people. They realized the importance of proper sanitation and how it can slow the spread of disease. They also understood the importance of not to taking things for granted and the tomorrow is not guaranteed. The Black Death, too many, is marked as “the greatest biological-environmental event in history and one of the major turning points of western civilization” (Gottifred The Black Death).