Outbreaks Never Die

When it comes to acute, contagious, and gross illnesses, Bubonic plague wins the title for all of history. Killing over fifty million people in the fourteenth century, it is very clear why this monstrosity was nicknamed the “black death”. England was hit especially bad by this epidemic, “By Spring 1349 the Black Death had killed six out of every ten Londoners” (Trueman). My source on the Bubonic plague explains many things, starting with a new medical conclusion about the plague. It was once thought to be spread by rats or fleas, but it was learned the disease was actually spread airborne, which led scientists believe the plague started as a curable skin rash, and turned deadly when it reached its victim’s lungs. This article also highlights the losses experienced by everyday society when the plague hit. Crops went unharvested, animals were unkempt and ran  away, population was declining, and prices were going up.

Similarity, in today’s world, we face disease outbreaks. While we have advanced medically and technologically, we still come across a bad virus every few years. Currently the one taking the world by storm is called the Zika virus. This is a mosquito spread illness which interestingly enough, normally has no symptoms and causes no long term damage. The people who are at most risk to this virus are pregnant women, because it causes birth defects. This virus causes microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small heads and underdeveloped brains. This a big problem, since having an underdeveloped brain may lead to “…range of problems, like developmental delays, intellectual deficits or hearing loss” (McNeil).

While the two illnesses are different in nature, they share a few key similarities. They both are worldwide epidemics that are slowing down population growth. Also, at the time, bubonic plague had no cue, just as the Zika virus does now. This information should pertain to Minnesotans who are just getting back from spring break. It is almost tradition for us to flock somewhere beautiful and tropical, which is just where the virus is at its peak. Any pregnant women should be incredibly cautious when traveling to Africa, South America, or Indonesia until the virus is under control.

Zika Link (This article has some really interesting facts and statistics integrated into pictures!)

Bubonic plague link


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