Impact of the Black Plague on a Nation

The Black Plague, which released a rampage of death all across Europe as well as Asia was responsible for reducing Europe’s population from anywhere between 25 – 50%. This disease’s affects on the human body are well documented and during the 14th century many writers included it in their texts, Giovanni Boccaccio was one of those authors. This Italian writer lived through the the plague in the devastated city of Florence (Near the center of Italy), in his introduction of The Decameron he gives a chilling description of the effects the plague had on his city-

“One citizen avoided another, hardly any neighbour troubled about others, relatives never or hardly ever visited each other. Moreover, such terror was struck into the hearts of men and women by this calamity, that brother abandoned brother, and the uncle his nephew, and the sister her brother, and very often the wife her husband. What is even worse and nearly incredible is that fathers and mothers refused to see and tend their children, as if they had not been theirs.”

      Biological Warfare, all that comes to mind when I hear these words are Hollywood movies or even video games such as Call of Duty, but what happens when you weaponize the plague? The plague, which is caused by Yersinia pestis, is most often transmitted to humans through rodent flea bites or by handling infected animals. Professor John D. Clements, chair of the program in molecular pathogenesis and immunology at the Tulane University of Medicine in New Orleans states “it is possible, but difficult, to effectively weaponize Y.pestis,”. The article by ABC News go into greater detail about the effectiveness of such a weapon and it’s effects on a population.

      Although it seems like it could come out of a action film, the plague and the ability to weaponize it could prove to be extremely deadly, even though there is treatment to cure the plague, on a large scale this would prove difficult. These two sources continue to link to one another as Boccaccio’s graphic depiction of Florence could happen to any major city (The last widespread outbreak of the plague occurred in Los Angeles in 1924, but only killed 30 people).

      The biggest issue that comes to mind when I read these two is just the idea that this could be a possibility, and if achieved could prove detrimental to life around the world. As Minnesota has two relatively large metropolitan areas, the plague which could travel from person to person, could be similar to the flu in the sense that is travels not only quickly, but also affects a great amount of people.


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