Bubonic Plague, a Science Lesson for Students

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The bubonic plague at one time was one of the worst epidemic disease. As you may know, the word “epidemic” means a disease that spreads quickly from one person to the next. This disease is caused by a germ called Pasteurella Pestis and one the first record of it was in Rome. It killed 5,000 people a day. It swept over to Russia, Germany, Italy, France, England, and several other countries.

An attack of bubonic plague does not last long, but this disease had a very high death rate many years ago. In the 1300’s, a form of bubonic plague called black death, destroyed a fourth of the population of Europe.

The cases were so severe then that you could never set foot out of the house without proper protection. It recorded the highest number of deaths in Asia and Europe during the 1900s with the death toll mounting to millions with each passing year and even a psle tutor opined this epidemic to the messenger of death.

The black death caused spots of blood which turned black under the skin. It also caused swelling of the lymph glands called buboes. This is how the plague got its name.

This plague was transmitted to human beings mainly from fleas from infected rats. In The United States, a less dangerous form of the disease was found in wild rodents along the Pacific Coast area.

An attack of this plague begins suddenly. The symptoms are chills, fever, headache and body pains. If you get symptoms like this, don’t worry and feel that you are coming down with Bubonic Plague because presently, it has been pretty much wiped out. However, if you have a swelling of the lymph glands along with the above symptoms, then a doctor must be seen.

It is stated in Science-Middle Ages by Austin Edward Smith, “The first record of this plague tells of an epidemic in Athens in 430 B.C. This plague almost vanished in the late 1800’s, but it appeared again in Hong Kong in 1894.” This author continues to mention that It was at this time that the ships from Hong Kong carried this disease to the rest of the world. It was especially prevalent in India. More than ten million people in India died from this plague from when it first started until 20 years later.

In 1907, the Second Indian Plague Commission of British government proved that rat fleas carried this disease. Because of this knowledge, countries have controlled it by strict quarantines and campaigns to exterminate rats.

Presently, there is an international agreement stating that if there is an outbreak in any country, there should be world-wide publicity of this outbreak.

Although this historical plague is no longer with us, there are still possibilities that an individual can contact this disease if they are exposed to dead animals, especially rodents. It is also wise to avoid contact with the nests of squirrels, chipmunks and other rodents. If you know that you might be some place where you could be exposed to rodent fleas, apply an insect repellent containing DEET.

The good news about this disease is, that in today’s world, if an individual has it, with proper anti-biotic treatment, most symptoms will subside within 2-5 days.

James Deakin lives in California USA. He is an author of two famous novels, Rage of Angels and When Tomorrow comes. He is also the founder of