The Black Plague Continues to Propagate: Cause and Effect of Yersinia Pestis Bacterium

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No one, at the time, could have predicted the events that killed nearly one-third of Europe’s London population of 40,000 to 100,000 thousand in little a more than two years. According to Ewan Calloway, across the continent of Europe more than 20 million people perished from 1342 through 1347. Starting with something as common place as vessels arriving to off load needed cargo at one of Europe’s busy ports in 1342 (Callaway 444). The Bubonic plague arrived, known as the “Black Plague”, came to Europe aboard 12 ships from Genoese, at the dock in the port of Messina. The plague was named due to the trademark black boils, which would ooze black pus and blood. It was accompanied by high fevers and severe pain for those who were stricken with the illness (“Black Death” 1). 700 years later a strain of the Yersinia Pestis Bacterium (Y-Pestis) has been genetically linked to incidents of the Black Plague, the effect of the bacterium’s ability to morph into new strains have long term effect on pandemic incidents (Calloway 444).
Interestingly, one can look father back and discover just how devastating the original Y Pestis Bacterium is. DNA strain traces of similar Y-Pestis bacterium found in the European plague have been found in more recent bubonic epidemics of the World. DNA discovered in bones samples from the European Plague are linked to a strain of Y-Pestis bacterium that caused the fall of the Roman Empire (“Plague with a Past”, 8). The cause of the bacterial infection can be found in the spread of the virus from infected rodents to human hosts through fleas that live on the rodents. Originally it was thought that rats were the only transmitters of the Bubonic Plague and that individuals infected with the “Black Plagu...

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