Plague

The black plague was a disease that started in Asia sometime during the 13th century. By the mid-14th century, the disease spread into Europe, and decimated the European population. The primary source I’ve included is a painting that was created during this period. Surrounded by death and disease, many painters of the period focused on creating depictions of what the world felt like while nearly everyone around them seemed to be dead or dying. One thing that I found interesting about this painting is in the lower left corner. There is a person who seems to be suffering from the plague, and given this image alone without any context, we can see what some of the symptoms of the disease were, such as the sores on their very pale skin. The disease originated in rodents and the fleas that they were carrying, and the living conditions in Europe during the time made it very easy for the disease to spread between these animals and the people living there. This was by far the worst case of plague the world has ever seen, but it wasn’t the most recent. Starting in 1855, and lasting over a hundred years until 1959, there was another worldwide plague epidemic that began in Hong Kong, China. It was during this time that people learned the most about this disease, such as how it is transferred and how it can be treated. They learned that it was mainly spread by fleas, and many of the victims that were treated had marks from where they had been bitten. They also learned that It is very easily treatable with the correct antibiotics. Although many believe that plague is an issue of the past, it still exists in our word today. In 2003, there were over 2000 cases of plague in various parts of the world, mostly in areas with poor living conditions, and 180 of these cases resulted in death, because the victims were not treated with antibiotics in time. With basic knowledge of how the disease is spread, and how it can be prevented with good pest control, and sanitary living conditions, it’s hard to imagine that it could exist in the world we live in, but it is still present and cases have even been reported right here in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from the years 2004 through 2014, there were 69 cases of plague within the United States alone, and 8 of these cases resulted in the victims’ death. Although these numbers seem small when compared to the overall population of our country, it’s still fascinating to think that even after our world and our country has become much more sanitary, and after all the advancements we have made in medicine and disease prevention, that such an “ancient” disease could still affect people’s lives in such a negative way. Although there have been seemingly less cases of plague year after year, it is still a part of the world we live in, and affects thousands around the world each year. It’s weird to think that the disease that once killed an estimated 25 million humans is still surviving on this world in the rodents and fleas we share the Earth with. Even after hundreds of years of medical and scientific advancements, it continues to affect the lives of people across the world, and takes the lives of dozens of humans each year. It’s horrible yet fascinating to think about just how long this disease has been affecting human lives, and it almost seems unreal that plague still exists, especially right here in the United States.

 

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-diseases/plague-article/

https://www.cdc.gov/plague/maps/

 

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