Ebola and the Black Death

Remember last year when everyone was panicking about Ebola in the United States? Well, there’s some good news and some bad news about that. Let’s start with the bad news – Ebola is back.

Although the most recent case happened in Liberia and not the United States, just hearing about the death of a 15 year old boy, as well as the fact that at least 150 people are currently under surveillance is enough for anyone to go pale. This occurrence, doctors speculate, may have been facilitated by the exhausted health care workers who relaxed too soon, having believed that the virus was at bay.

The good news is that researchers have made some more discoveries about the virus, albeit it controversial. Some people believe that a link exists between Ebola and the Black Plague as their symptoms are similar. For example, the fevers of the Black Death which induce welts and the dissolving of internal organs due to some liquid are akin to Ebola. However, this information opposes the causation of the Black Death as the bubonic plague (a bacterial disease); it suggests, that the Black Death was actually a form of Ebola (a virus).This would explain why the Black Death spread so fast, researchers say, because rodents carrying the disease shouldn’t have been able to ravage Europe to the extent that it did.

Whether or not the theory above is true, we can at least say that the widespread panic inspired by Ebola and the Black Plague are synonymous. For one, people in the United States are reluctant to treat Ebola patients much like how villages were against outsiders coming in. There have been cases of doctors contracting the virus, after all. On top of that, both situations have been influenced by religion. In response to the Ebola outbreak, the Liberian Council of Churches said that its spread was because “God [was] angry with Liberia. …Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts … that continue to penetrate our society.” People who lived during the plague also thought that they had incurred God’s wrath. A man from Parma at that time, said in a letter to his brother that they deserved to be punished.

For us Minnesotans in particular, all this news may overall be devastating since the Twin Cities is home to one of the biggest populations of Liberians. And with our advanced medical facilities, it’s no huge surprise that Minnesota is going to continue lending the country a hand. Liberian Vice President’s visit to Minnesota earlier this year had already requested our help in his country’s recovery (i.e., studying the after effects on survivors). It’s just unfortunate that we have to go back to treating patients.

-Angie Nguyen

Sources:

Primary: http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/plague/perspectives/petrarca.php

Contemporary: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/281404676691620935/

 

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