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HIS 8 - Black Death: Home

1347 - 1351 The plague that reduced the world population


???? It started with a flee or did it

Medical historians have identified the cause of the Black Death as plague, an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.Plague bacteria infect rodents, such as rats, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs. The bites of fleas transmit the germs from rodent to rodent and from rodents to human beings or pets.

However evidence produced by forensic scientists and archeologists in 2014 from human remains in the north of the City of London suggests that fleas could not actually have been responsible for an infection that spread so fast – it had to be airborne. Once the disease reached the lungs of the malnourished, it was then spread to the wider population through sneezes and coughs. more...

Taken from Byrne, J. P. (2016). Black Death. In World Book Advanced. <> accessed 30 May 2016

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Medical Symptoms


The symptoms of the Black Death were terrible and swift:

  • Painful swellings (buboes) of the lymph nodes
  • These swellings, or buboes, would appear in the armpits, legs, neck, or groin
  • A bubo was at first a red color. The bubo then turned a dark purple color, or black

Other symptoms of the Black Death included:

  • a very high fever
  • delirium
  • the victim begins to vomit
  • muscular pains
  • bleeding in the lungs
  • mental disorientation
  • The plague also produced in the victim an intense desire to sleep, which, if yielded to, quickly proved fatal
  • A victim would die quickly - victims only lived between 2 -4 days after contracting the deadly disease.

 Plague warning poster.  This is an image of a plague doctor.



A Merchant ship entering the port of Messina in Sicily carrying a terrible disease from Asia to Europe. Though the ship was moved on to another port, mearly tying the boat up had allowed the rats who carried the disease in their flees to bring the disease to Europe. The Black Plague was continuing its spread across the know world. About 20 million people would loose their lives.

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