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What was the Black Death? - Real Facts

Nurses Talk - So many people are asking about Black Death and no one can explain it well.  Some say that Black Death was the name of the disease that claimed so many lives in Europe many centuries ago.  Others would say it was the unforgettable crisis in Europe that people died from rat bites. So what really is Black Death?

Rat Flea
Black Death was the term they used to the devastating plague that kills so many people in Europe during 14th Century.

It got its name Black Death because black spots appeared on the skin of the victims.  The Black Death was bubonic plague or its more virulent relative, pneumonic plague.

When a victim is infected with the virus several symptoms strike his body, which cause his sudden death:
  • High fever
  • Hard swelling of the lymph glands
  • Pneumonic related disorders (causes the patient to vomit blood and hard to breath)
 The plague bacillus carriers were fleas of black rats or by the wastes of the victims.   Doctors and helpers at that the time were easy victims of the plague.  The virus was airborne so people easily infected even they live far from the victims. .

According to many historians that the plague was carried to Europe by rats on merchant vessels, which traveled from Middle East.

Arriving in southern Italy in the summer of 1347, it soon spread by trade routes to Spain and France. The plague reached England in 1348, Germany in 1349, and Russia in 1350.

When Black Death spread rapidly in Europe it was totally difficult to combat.  There were no standard health and Medical  procedures at that time to cater the needs of the victims, plus personal hygiene was nonexistent in every household. 

Mortality Rates

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60 percent of Europe's population, reducing world population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in the 14th century. The aftermath of the plague created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover.

The appearance of both lay piety movements and heresy during the Black Death owes something to the moral crisis of the late Middle Ages and to the disillusionment of the people with the church of that time. Popular terror was reflected in frenzies of religious excess, as in the case of the Flagellants. Jews were accused of spreading the plague by poisoning wells, and pogroms directed against them occurred in the Rhineland and Switzerland, in spite of papal protests. Hysterical charges of sorcery and witchcraft were brought against eccentric and unpopular people. The art and literature of the period testify to the contemporary obsession with death and decay.
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