Black Death Disease

What is Black Death?

Black Death or bubonic plague is a bacterial infection found mainly in rodents and their fleas. The disease is transmitted via the fleas to humans. Black Death first broke out as medieval pandemic across Asia and Europe. During the late 14th century it claimed an estimated 25 million lives. However, the cause of the disease was not discovered till recently when it broke out in China in 1885. In 1894, scientists in China could finally discover the rod shaped bacillus Yersinia pestis responsible for the deadly disease. According to modern estimates almost half of Europe’s population was wiped out during the outbreak of the deadly epidemic of the medieval times.

Causes of Black Death

Black Death or bubonic plague is caused when the bacteria Yersinia pestis attacks the lymphatic system of the human being. The bacterial infection is spread via rodents and the fleas that infest them. The fleas then transmit it to human through bites.

The lymphatic system which is the body’s’ immune system consisting of the adenoids, spleen, thymus and tonsils becomes inflamed because of the bacterial infection and if untreated may prove fatal.

Symptoms of Black Death

The symptoms of Black Death may vary from person to person. The following are the most common symptoms of disease:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea (with blood)
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Seizures
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Appearance of buboes in the lymph nodes (that is inflammation in the groin, neck or armpits with pus and blood)

Diagnosis of Black Death

Diagnosis of Black Death can be made initially from the above mentioned symptoms. Though Doctors prescribe some of the clinical tests which are as follows:

  • Physical examination of the skin and lungs
  • Blood tests
  • Saliva tests
  • Tests for lymph nodes

Treatment of Black Death

The patient must be treated within 24 hours of contracting the bacterial infection otherwise the disease may prove fatal. Below are listed some of the antibiotics for Black Death:

  • Streptomycin
  • Gentamicin
  • Doxycycline
  • Ciprofloxacin

In extreme cases Oxygen, intravenous fluids and respiratory support may also be needed.

Precautions and Prevention of Black Death

The Black Plague spread from rats to fleas and finally to humans, so proper measure is necessary to curb the epidemic. The plague does not spread from human to human until and unless the infected person suffers from pneumonia. In such cases, the disease may spread through coughing or sneezing.

Control of the plague in rats or rodents has been found to be very expensive, so other means for controlling the outbreak has been tried out. Having a clean environment, proper drug facilities and public health education are some of the measures to control the disease. Pets should be treated for any flea infection by the owners, control of rat population in ones area and keeping a track of Plague cases in ones neighborhood are some other important measures.

The following Precautions must be taken:

  • Avoid rat or flea infested areas
  • Epidemics can be controlled by checking the rat population for the disease
  • Vaccination
  • Spraying insecticides