How did people know if you had "black death" or bubonic plauge back during the middle ages?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Love your question!

The bubonic plague which took the lives of 1/3 of the total European population during three long-lasting outbreaks (the one you are referring to was the 1328-1351 outbreak which in this case was spread by infected fleas hanging around the many rats that infested the already non-hygienic society.

According to plenty historians, including the books In the Wake of the Plague and A World Lit Only by Fire, the symptoms were pretty much consistent among all infected, and assured the incoming end in just about 1-4 days.

1. Flu-like symptoms

2. High fever

3. Pain and sweating

4. Vomiting and coughing (often came with blood, and this was the sure sign that the buboes would come up next)- this was also the worst time for contagion.

5. Bubos show up *almond shaped, often golfball to orange-sized swellings* many times by the armpits, and would turn from red to purple, and then to black.

6. All the symptoms happened in combination. One did not spare the other

7.The buboes were supposed to be lacerated in order to treat the condition and some of the cures included arsenic, lavender rose, lilly root and.......dried toads.

8. The doctors died as quick as the patients and do not forget that hygienic conditions in what would later be known as medical facilities were not even a concept back then until the times of Florence Nightingale in the 19th century. Hence, you were pretty much considered a dead man or woman under those conditions.

9. ** The Black death would cause such a ravage in the inmune system of the victim that it would prompt him to sleep for hours on end. This pattern, combined with high fever, delirium and the ALMOST GUARANTEED fact that your family would have left the house and you inside of it for fear of contagion pretty much puts the odds against the patient.

PS: Most abandoned homes, or homes with a black or red cross on the door would announce the message to the others that there had been Black Death in the house. Plus the dead pigs and cattle associated with the same household would also send the signals out.

Hope this helps!

sean20 | Student

this is a very simple answer: would have boils in your armpits and groin area the boils would grow as big as apples. would have black spots around your thigh.

3. you would feel like you had cached the flu but a more worse fate.

thats my anwer dont blame me im in year 7!

mkcapen1 | Student

Depending on what you read and where, one may find that the Black Death was considered by many to have been the bubonic plague.  It is believed to have traveled to Europe from Asia.  The disease was carried by fleas on rats.  One in three people died from the disease during 1347-1351.  The Black Death was also thought to have been Anthrax.

The Bubonic Plague has been attributed to having killed over 1/3 of Europe's population.  It also caused 12 million deaths in China.  Despite the belief that it no longer exists, symptoms and diagnosis of the disease have been found in America in Southwestern regions where people have come into contact with prairie dogs.  However, there are only 20 to 30 deaths yearly attributed to the symptoms.