The Plague

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The Black Death caused a widespread death rate over the eastern and western parts of Europe during the fourteenth century. Not only did the Black Death take a devastating toll on human life, it also played an important role in shaping European life in years to come.

The Black Death came in three forms, the bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. Each form killed people in it’s own vicious way. All forms were caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis. The most commonly seen form was the bubonic plague. The death rate was thirty to seventy five percent. The symptoms were inflamed lymph nodes, armpits, neck and groin. The victims were subjected to headache, nausea, aching joints, and fever of 101- 105 degrees, vomiting, and a general feeling of illness (The Black Death). Symptoms usually took one to seven days to appear.

The second most common form of the Black Death was the pneumonic plague; the victims often died before they could reach other places. The pneumonic plague mainly attacked the lungs. Symptoms included slimy sputum tinted with blood. (Sputum is saliva mixed with mucus exerted from the respiratory system.) The death rate was ninety to ninety five percent. Symptoms took one to seven days to appear.

The rarest form of the Black Death was the septicemic plague. The death rate was close to one hundred percent. The symptoms were high fever, and skin turning deep shades of purple, due to respiratory failure. Victims usually died the first day the symptoms appeared.

The disease was spread through an infectious fever caused by the Yersinia pestis, passed on by the rat flea. The infection spread to anyone that had contact with the diseased. The infected found themselves pierced by a pain throughout their whole body. Soon after they developed on their thighs or the upper arms a lump the size of a walnut which some people called them “burn boils.” This then pierced them until the patient violently began vomiting blood. The vomiting of blood persisted without stopping for three days, which didn’t give the victims any time to heal their wounds. Swellings continued to expand until they eventually exploded, with death following immediately after. The whole process from transmission to death usually lasted three or four days. The plague was deathly terrifying to have and to witness, the terrible pain and the bizarre appearance both made the plague especially terrifying. People could not only get infected through the transmission of the disease but by talking to the sick touching them or any of their things.

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