What Caused the Black Death?


In the late 1320s or in the early 1330’s the Bubonic Plague broke out in the Gobi Deserts of China. This plague was caused by flea infested rats and spread very fast throughout Europe. In October, 1347 a Genoese ship fleet which was returning from the Black Sea (which was a key trade link with China) landed in the island of Messina, Sicily. Most of the sailors on board were dead and ship was quickly ordered out of the harbour. But it was too late by then. The city was soon infected by this disease and it spread rapidly along the trade routes to Italy. From Italy the disease spread to other parts of European continent. Within a few months the disease had spread as far as North of England. In the five years after that there were 25 million people (one third of the population) killed in Europe.

 

Black Death wiped one-third of Europe's population

Thee bubonic plague is reported to have caused fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhoea and formation of black boils in the armpits, groin and neck. Initially the disease was called “Great Mortality” and “Great Pestilence” it later assumed the name “Black Death”. This name was adopted due to the black boils that derived their colour from the dried blood under the skin which was caused by internal bleeding. The bacterium in some circumstances spread to the victims lungs and filled it with bloody liquid. This disease spread quickly from person to person contact or through air. It was very lethal.

 

Skeletons in the Plague Pits

There has been extensive research to determine the exact causes for Black Death Plague. Some Anthropologists have recently confirmed that this disease was caused by an organism named Yersiniaa pestis. Bones and skeletons of about 76 affected people from the plague pits of Italy, Germany, France and Netherlands were judged. The DNA samples provided conclusive evidence for presence of Yersiniaa Pestis.

 

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