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A History of Black Death and Its Effects on Western Europe

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A History of Black Death and Its Effects on Western Europe

A History of Black Death and its Effects on Western Europe

Black Death in Western Europe

This plague, thought to be the Bubonic plague, spread throughout Europe, killing about half its population. It was called the Black Death because of the black blotches that appeared on the victims' bodies. This plague was carried by infected fleas of the black rat.

Theology, developed in accordance with this idea, threw about all cures, even those which resulted from scientific effort, an atmosphere of supernaturalism. The vividness with which the accounts of miracles in the sacred books were realized in the early Church continued the idea of miraculous intervention throughout the Middle Ages. The testimony of the great fathers of the Church to the continuance of miracles is overwhelming; but everything shows that they so fully expected miracles on the slightest occasion as to require nothing which in these days would be regarded as adequate evidence.

In this atmosphere of theological thought medical science was at once checked. The School of Alexandria, under the influence first of Jews and later of Christians, both permeated with Oriental ideas, and taking into their theory of medicine demons and miracles, soon enveloped everything in mysticism. In the Byzantine Empire of the East the same cause produced the same effect; the evolution of ascertained truth in medicine, begun by Hippocrates and continued by Herophilus, seemed lost forever. Medical science, trying to advance, was like a ship becalmed in the Sargasso Sea: both the atmosphere about it and the medium through which it must move resisted all progress. Instead of reliance upon observation, experience, experiment, and thought, attention was turned toward supernatural agencies.

Oriental Rat Flea:

Fleas are blood sucking parasites. They have the potential of spreading dangerous diseases to humans and other animals. It is possible the first flea was native to Africa and traveled by boat on the back of a rat to different destinations around the world. Even though there are many different types of fleas, they all have similar body parts; eyes and legs help them survive the dangers of their life. A flea undergoes four different life cycles to become an adult. The Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague, is one of the deadly diseases that the flea can spread to man and animals.

The rat flea has two eyes, yet it can only see very bright light. On the very tip of its head is a genal comb. Right behind the eyes are two short antennae. Behind the antennae is the pronotum and behind that lays the protonotal comb.A flea's mouth has two functions: one for squirting saliva or partly digested blood into the bite, and one for sucking up blood from the host. This process mechanically transmits pathogens that may cause diseases the flea might have. Fleas smell exhaled carbon dioxide from humans and animals and jump rapidly to the source to feed on the newly found host. A flea is wingless so it can not fly, but it can jump long distances with the help of small powerful legs. A flea's leg consists of four parts. The part that is closest to the body is the coxa. Next is the femur, tibia and tausus. A flea can use its legs to jump up to 200 times its own body length. It can also jump about 130 times its own height. The flea's body is only about one tenth of an inch. A flea's body is constructed to make it easier to jump long distances. The flea's body consists of three regions: head, thorax, and abdomen. The head and the thorax have rows of bristles (called combs) and the abdomen consists of eight visible segments.


How was the Black Death transmitted? The three forms of the Black Death were transmitted two ways. The septicemic and bubonic plague were transmitted with direct contact with a flea, while the pneumonic plague was transmitted through airborne droplets of saliva coughed up by bubonic or septicemic infected humans.

The bubonic and septicemic plague were transmitted by the the bite of an infected flea. Fleas, humans, and rats served as hosts for the disease. The bacteria (Yersinia pestis) multiplied inside the flea blocking the flea's stomach causing it to be very hungry. The flea would then start voraciously biting a host. Since the feeding tube to the stomach was blocked, the flea was unable to satisfy its hunger. As a result, it continued to feed in a frenzy. During the feeding process, infected blood carrying the plague, bacteria flowed into the human's wound. The plague bacteria now had a new host. The flea soon starved to death.

The pneumonic plague was transmitted differently than the other two forms . It was transmitted through

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