Modern Day Plague

Although the plague is more commonly known for the devastating pandemic it caused during the Black Death in Europe in the mid 1300’s, it is still here today, and very close by. During the peak of its disaster in history, the plague took about 25 million people, which was one third of the population in Europe. For centuries, smaller outbreaks continued to occur, and then it seemed to disappear eventually. But it didn’t completely, as it is still here today, and even in America.

In 2015, there were 14 cases of bubonic plague reported in the US, mostly out west, in New Mexico, Arizona, and hitting Colorado the hardest. A teenager and an adult from different counties both died from the plague in Colorado. Another case was reported in Michigan, but the resident most likely contracted the disease from Colorado as they had recently visited the state.

Around 1350, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron. Inspired by the times he was living in, the fictional piece told a story of a group of people escaping the Black Death by essentially imprisoning themselves for 100 days, and passing time by telling various stories.

Should we fear the Black Death for how it showed itself in the past? Boccaccio’s characters were afraid and desperate to flee the Black Death. At its height, this disease on its own wiped out a significant part of the entire population of Europe. Today, it affects smaller numbers and fortunately, is not the death sentence that it used to be. Although there have been deaths from the plague in modern times, if it is detected early, it can be treated with antibiotics and antimicrobials.

Contemporary Minnesotans should have little fear of the Black Death today. Yes, we can still contract it as it is around and even so close as in Michigan. But with modern day knowledge and medicine, it is not such a fearful thing as it was during history.

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