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A infectious, often deadly
disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Bubonic plague usually affects
rodents, such as rats, but fleas can transmit the disease to humans from their
bite. After one individual is infected,
the disease is easily passed from person to person. The plague causes fever, chills, vomiting,
diarrhea, and painful swelling of the lymph nodes, or
buboes, which is how the disease got its name.
During the later stages red spots appear on the skin and the victim
begins to go delirious. When the person
is close to death, the red spots turn black.
The bacterium first infects
rodents, usually rats. Fleas are infected
by biting and feeding on the blood of the rodents. The fleas can then pass the bacteria by biting
Fever - all victims of bubonic plague have a fever,
followed by chills.
Swelling of lymph nodes - these are painful
swellings of the lymph tissue and are sometimes called
Prostration - complete physical and/or mental
exhaustion usually as a result of delirium.
Delirium - mental disturbance characterized by
confusion, disordered speech, and hallucinations.
Black spots on skin - when a victim first contracts
the disease, they develop red spots on the skin. In the later stages of the disease, the
spots start to darken. The victim dies
when the spots are black.
History of the Disease
In the 1320's there was a
minor plague in
China. The plague
did not reach
Europe until 1347 AD.
In that year, a massive plague swept through Europe, killing one third of the population. There were so many deaths that undertakers
could not provide enough coffins for the dead.
People resorted to theft for coffins.
Many of the dead lay in the street unattended to. The main culprit of the plague were the
Oriental Rat Fleas, carried on the back of black rats.