Throughout time there have been events that have opened the eyes of many people, horrific events. Earthquakes, famine, and other tragic acts of nature have shaped the outcome of society and made a difference which had a toll on society.
“The most memorable example of what has been advanced is afforded by a great pestilence of the fourteenth century, which desolated Asia, Europe, and Africa, and of which the people yet preserve the remembrance in gloomy traditions.” (Hecker, 1832)
The Black Death caused many economic and social hardships during the fourteenth century that brought about change which affects the way society lives today. Deaths ranging in the millions over a three hundred time period set in motion, events that helped to shape the events that led to many major situations such as the Holocaust and the rise of industrialism and capitalism. Although horrifying, the Black Death brought for change.
The Black Death is considered the most well-known of all pandemics that swept through Asia and Europe. The bacterial infection, thought to mainly be found in rodents and their fleas, remained for centuries due to the lack of medicine and understanding, for the most part in highly populated areas. According to Katherine Richard, in 1855 the cause of the was finally discovered in Hong Kong when researchers were able isolate the bacillus responsible, Yersinia pestis. Doctors were able to see very similar symptoms of the plague in both people and rodents that were victims of a fleabite. The bacterium, Yersinia pestis is considered extremely potent because it is of a mutant variety of the bacterium which causes the Bubonic plague. These bacteria could not survive outside of the animal hosts it infected and could not break through the walls of the host’s cell body in order to hide. What the bacteria would attack is the victim’s immune system by injecting toxins into the cells responsible for detecting and fighting off infections. Once the bacteria accomplished this task, it could multiple unobstructed. Victims would be so overwhelmed, more or less poisoned to death when the bacteria rapidly multiplied gathering in thick clots under the skin. Other side effects would include gangrene, lungs that literally dissolved, and pus-filled glands that would erupt. Yersinia pestis is characterized by chills, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and the formation of black boils in the armpits, neck, and groin. “The name comes from a symptom of the disease, called acral necrosis, in which suffers’ skin would blacken due to sub dermal hemorrhages.” (Zapotczny, 2006). The bacterium in certain cases would spread to the victim’s lungs, causing them to fill with a foamy, bloody liquid. When this happened, the disease could be spread quickly from person to person through the air with just as much lethality. Contemporary medicine during the time could not provide any explanation for the sickness so most doctors where afraid to offer treatment.