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Dale’s Daily Data: Bubonic Plague

A 1350 painting by E. Courbould depicting people praying for relief from the bubonic plague. (Getty Images)

History books say the Bubonic Plague – the Black Death began sweeping across Asia, the Middle East and finally Europe in 1345 taking the lives of 25-million people. Middle Age scholars believed it all happened because Saturn, Jupiter and Mars all lined up in such an odd way that it affected Earth.
We know now the plague was caused by a bacteria carried by fleas that usually traveled on rats. When the rats died, the fleas jumped off to other mammals. The first sign of the plague was when people first complained of headaches, fever and chills. Their tongues often appeared a whitish color, followed by severe swelling of the lymph nodes. Finally, black and purple spots appeared on the skin and death often followed within a week.
The plague began in Mongolia, spread to China and India and to the Middle East and wherever it went, the death toll was high. Within a year, it made its way to Europe and the legend is it was during a battle in the Middle East between the Turks and Italians. The Turks were already being devastated by the plague, so in desperation, they began catapulting dead bodies over to the Italians. The Italians fled back to Italy taking the disease with them. In Venice, 100,000 people died.
The disease worked its way to France and Paris lost an estimated 50,000. Eventually the plague made its way to England. Typically, many countries believed they were superior and immune to infection when their neighbors came down with the plague, but they soon found out otherwise.
Human nature was to find somebody to blame. Most people didn’t go for the planets thing, so witches and gypsies were frequent targets. Jewish people were tortured and burned to death by the thousands. Preachers said the disease was God’s punishment for immorality
By the time the worst was over in 1352, one third of the population of the continent from Europe across Asia had been wiped out.


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