A Downgraded Black Plauge

The Black Plague was a horrific event, but to what extent and why does it really relate to today? It’s a good question and insight is found in many places. I found mine in two separate articles. One was about the devastation of the Ebola outbreak and a primary resource on the Black Plague.

The primary source was an article based around a letter. The letter written by Boccaccio discussed the despair of the black plague. Making accounts such as “dying throngs of both young and old, and nowhere is there a refuge”or ” nor can any hope of longed for salvation be seen”. The letter also discusses the endless burials, his family dying, and the dense clouds that  “have covered … [him] with fear”. The letter is a poetic way of describing the vast amount of death and fear that affected 1/3 of Europe’s population that were dying from the black plague.

The other source is an article that is not necessarily poetic but a data sheet showing the devastation of Ebola. One picture I found useful was a photo that discusses the death rate of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.



This picture brings joy to me because it shows where the three countries with the most confirmed cases of ebola, in the last 7 days,  (Report done November 11 2015) only had 2-5 cases of Ebola versus the many numbers of people dying at the start of the outbreak . I also find this picture useful to understand visually the number of Ebola cases confirmed. The first picture above doesn’t tell the actual number of cases in each country but the graph below shows the actual numbers and helps put the amount of deaths in perspective.



How do these articles relate? We know that 1/3 or about 25 million people died from the black plague and only 11,000 died in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, where the vast majority of cases of ebola were found. This helps to further understand the black plague in its entirety. The Black Plague was about 2,500 times larger than the ebola outbreak. So how can this be understood? It helps to look at examples by comparison. What about money? If you had 1,000 dollars or a month’s rent and multiplied it by 2,500 you would have 2.5 million or about 1.5 times times the average income over a lifetime. What about oceans and lakes? Lake Michigan, Superior and Erie combined are about 2,500 times smaller in surface area than the ocean.


Why is all this useful to Minnesotans? It helps us understand the importance of maintaining the disease outbreaks. Also, if we are not armed and ready Ebola can turn into the Black Plague and that plague was considerably worse than we coud ever imagine. It helps us understand how people felt and what Boccaccio really meant by the fear he felt and expressed.



Usher, Jonathan. “Decameron Web.” Decameron Web. Web. 28 Nov. 2015.

“Ebola Situation Report – 25 November 2015.” Www.who.int. 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 28 Nov. 2015.



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