what are the symptoms of the black death?

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sierra-simmerman | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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Black Death 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

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lenahong114 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

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In the middle of the 14th century, plague ravaged the population of Europe. Arising in Asia in the 1340s, the sickness was most likely spread throughout Europe by Italian merchants bringing it west along trade routes. Its results were devastating: At least one third, and as much as one half, of the European population succumbed to one form—bubonic, pneumatic, or septicemic—of the plague. Regular recurrences meant that the population of Europe did not
begin to really recover until near the end of the 15th century. Responses to the Black Death, as it was later called, included an increase in religious sentiment and practice, hedonistic abandon, and the flagellant movement.

Eyewitness accounts offer a dramatic view of life during the plague years, indicating that many people thought that the end of the world was at hand. For those who survived, society changed significantly; peasants, in particular, found themselves better off economically as more land was available and able-bodied laborers were in high demand.

Caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium, which is generally carried by fleas on rats, bubonic plague traveled to the medieval world from Asia along trade routes. Ecological changes in Asia during the 14th century drove rodents out of their natural habitats and into closer proximity with humans, so plague could cross over into the human population. Plague was active in central Asia in the 1330s, and one of its worst aspects was that people knew it was coming; although they didn’t understand the method of transmission, sources indicate that people west of an outbreak
recognized it was heading their way.

There were three types of plague: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. The bubonic type was named for the large swelled lumps, or buboes, that appeared on the sick around the lymph nodes in the groin or armpit area. This form was usually transmitted by the bite of an infected flea. Septicemic plague attacked the blood and had as its only benefit that death came more swiftly than for victims of the bubonic type, who lived for days in agony before vomiting blood and dying. A third type, pneumonic, was perhaps the most deadly in that it could be spread through the air. Death was even swifter than with septicemic plague—often in just a few hours.

A cure for the plague was not discovered until the 19th century, but that didn’t stop people living in the medieval world from trying to find treatments and preventive measures. The lancing of buboes was considered the only real intervention available once bubonic plague had manifested. Many people carried flowers or otherwise pleasant-smelling items near their noses in the belief that the pleasant smell would counter the presence of plague.


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