Well Firstly Just So You Know The Bubonic Plague Was one of the Deadliest Plagues, It killed over Half of Europe in the 14th Century. So You be the Judge, Is it the Deadliest?.
Black Death, a pandemic that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351, taking a proportionately higher toll of life than any other known epidemic or war up to that time.
What is the Bubonic Plague?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease is caused by the bacteria Yersinia Pestis, a zoonotic bacteria usually found in small mammals and their fleas, with the symptoms of the disease appearing after an incubation period of one to seven days.
The disease usually spreads from bites of fleas that have fed upon infected creatures like mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels.
What is this disease? There are two primary forms of the plague: bubonic and pneumonic (when plague advances to the lungs).
According to WHO, bubonic plague is the most common form and is characterized by painful swollen lymph nodes or ‘buboes’.
It’s a rare disease now—from 2010 to 2015, there were 3,248 cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths. It is now mostly endemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Peru.
How fatal is it? In the Middle Ages, a bubonic plague pandemic, also known as the ‘black death’, had wiped out more than half of Europe’s population.
However, with the availability of antibiotics, the disease is mainly treatable now.
If not treated on time, bubonic plague has a case-fatality ratio of 30 per cent to 60 per cent. At the same time, it’s septicaemic (circulation in the bloodstream) and pneumonic kind can touch 100 per cent fatality.
If diagnosed and treated on time, the disease has about a 10 per cent fatality rate.
However, there is also a Third Form Of this Plague – Septicemic plague.
When the bacteria enter the bloodstream directly and multiply there, it’s known as septicemic plague. When they’re left untreated, both bubonic and pneumonic plague can lead to septicemic disease.
Bubonic plague in history
It resulted in ‘black death‘, one of the worst pandemics in human history that claimed millions of lives in the 14th Century.
The disease is expected to have originated somewhere in Asia, spreading through China and India, before killing of an estimated two-thirds of the European population in the 1340s and 1350s.
While antibiotics can now treat the disease, the airborne spread of the highly contagious disease wreaked havoc and frenzy across the world.
Healthy people were found dead overnight, and sailors started arriving at ports either dead or rotting or covered in black wounds, pus, and blood.
There were also riots and massacres of the Jewish people, and the disease is believed to have been brought under control by strict quarantine measures and public hygiene enactments.
Signs and symptoms of the plague
People infected with the plague usually develop flu-like symptoms two to six days after infection. Other symptoms can help distinguish the three forms of the disease.
Bubonic plague symptoms
Symptoms of bubonic plague generally appear within two to six days of infection. They include:
- fever and chills
- muscle pain
- general weakness
You may also experience painful, swollen lymph glands, called buboes. These typically appear in the groin, armpits, neck, or site of the insect bite or scratch. The buboes are what give bubonic plague its name.
Septicemic plague symptoms
Septicemic plague symptoms usually start within two to seven days after exposure, but septicemic plague can lead to death before symptoms even appear. Symptoms can include:
- abdominal pain
- nausea and vomiting
- fever and chills
- extreme weakness
- bleeding (blood may not be able to clot)
- skin turning black (gangrene)
Pneumonic plague symptoms
Pneumonic plague symptoms may appear as quickly as one day after exposure to the bacteria. These symptoms include:
- trouble breathing
- chest pain
- overall weakness
- bloody sputum (saliva and mucus or pus from the lungs)
In the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, a city is on high alert. On Tuesday, they confirmed a case of a disease that has persisted centuries after it caused the most deadly pandemic in human history — the bubonic plague.
The case was first discovered in the city of Bayannur, located northwest of Beijing, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.
A hospital alerted municipal authorities of the suspected case on Saturday. By Sunday, local authorities had issued a citywide Level 3 warning for plague prevention, the second-lowest in a four-level system.
The warning will stay in place until the end of the year, according to Xinhua.
The case was confirmed and officially diagnosed by doctors on Tuesday. The patient is being isolated and treated in hospital, and is in stable condition, Xinhua reported.
The Bayannur health authorities are now urging people to take extra precautions to minimize the risk of human-to-human transmission, and to avoid hunting, skinning, or eating animals that could cause infection.
“At present, there is a risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city. The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly,” the local health authority said, according to state-run newspaper China Daily.
Bayannur authorities have issued a warning to the public to report findings of dead or sick marmots — a type of giant ground squirrel that is eaten in some parts of China and the neighbouring country Mongolia, and which have historically caused plague outbreaks in the region.
The marmot is believed to have caused the 1911 pneumonic plague epidemic, which killed about 63,000 people in northeast China.
It was hunted for its fur, which soared in popularity among international traders.
The diseased fur products were traded and transported around the country — infecting thousands along the way.
Though that epidemic was contained within a year, marmot-related plague infections have persisted decades later.
Just last week, two cases of bubonic plague were confirmed in Mongolia — brothers who had both eaten marmot meat, according to Xinhua.
On Monday, authorities identified another suspected case of bubonic plague in Mongolia — a 15-year-old who had eaten marmot, according to Xinhua.
Last May, a couple in Mongolia died from bubonic plague after eating the raw kidney of a marmot, thought to be a folk remedy for good health.
Two more people got pneumonic plague — another form of the disease, which infects the lungs — months later across the Chinese border in Inner Mongolia.