By: Angelika Rybalko
My first article is about new findings about the black death. The article explains that new evidence and studies of skeletons show that the black death wasn’t bubonic, but pneumonic. The main difference between the two is that bubonic is caused by bites from infected fleas, while pneumonic is airborne. Pneumonic is also more fatal than bubonic which would explain why so little people survived the black death. The article also explains that most of the studied skeletons had signs of malnutrition, sickness, vitamin deficiency, and upper body injuries (McCoy). These new findings are an issue because it could mean that doctors and scientists have been taking the wrong preventative measures since they thought the black death was bubonic.
My second article is a firsthand experience of the black death from an Italian writer that lived through it. He describes the symptoms of the plague and the people’s reaction. Some people locked themselves away from everyone and acted as if nothing was going on. Others went from house to house (since the owners were either dead, sick, or with their families), drinking and dancing. He explains that doctors could not find a cure for the black death, either because the disease was so fatal that there wasn’t even a possibility of a cure or the doctors were just too ignorant.
Maybe if the doctors during that time period had known that it was spreading through the air and not fleas, they could have come up with some sort of cure. Although both bubonic and pneumonic are plagues with similar symptoms, they have different causes for infection which means they need a different cure and means of prevention. If the doctors had the correct information, the black death could have had less fatalities and maybe could’ve even been prevented altogether (although that wouldn’t have been likely since they didn’t have access to the technology, information, and communication systems, that we have today).
Although the plague isn’t as common today, I am still concerned about the chances of having a cure since doctors believed it was bubonic up until a few years ago. Another issue is that even with these new findings, people may still believe the black death was bubonic so they will approach it and attempt to cure it like a bubonic plague, not a pneumonic one.
As a Minnesotan, the articles can be helpful and informational to people because since we live in such a cold state, sicknesses are common. Knowing that a high percentage of infected people had been sick beforehand, can help us stay informed and healthy, in case of an outbreak. Taking precautions to prevent ourselves from getting sick can decrease our chances of getting infected and provide more time for getting a cure. I know the chances of an outbreak are highly unlikely, but staying informed can help protect ourselves, the people around us, and even our entire country, in the future.
Boccaccio, Giovanni, The Decameron vol. I (translated by Richard Aldington illustrated by Jean de Bosschere) (1930); Gottfried, Robert, The Black Death (1983).
McCoy, Terrence. “Everything You Know about the Black Death Is Wrong.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 31 Mar. 2014.