Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Pro and Anti- Bubonic Plague Theories- how exciting!

In tandem with what Professor Latto presented in lecture, there is some disagreement as to what really caused the Pandemic widely known as “The Black Death.” I wanted to find some compelling evidence for one side or the other, but, in reality, I just found more information on how The Pandemic could have been caused by the Bubonic Plague and then why it was not. One anti-Bubonic Plague theory suggests that a virus like Ebola caused the Plague since the disease spread from person to person so quickly. In addition, the outbreak occurred and ended very suddenly which is typical of a virus. Another theory suggests that anthrax is the real culprit. Not too long before the Plague broke out in Europe, Europeans, particularly the English, began to consume domesticated animals, mostly cows, as a source of protein instead of wild game. It’s been suggested that this situation was ideal for cattle-born anthrax to quickly infect a lot of people in Europe.

However the theory that I found most disturbing was one in the Pro-Bubonic Plague camp. Many scientists agree that the theory suggesting that infected rats spread the Bubonic Plague all over Europe is somewhat flawed because it seems unreasonable to assert that rats can travel that quickly when it’s known that rats don’t usually stray too far from where they are born during their lifetime nor can they move hundreds of miles a day, even a week. So, it’s been hypothesized that human fleas, Pulex irritans, spread the Plague from person to person and from city to city. I find this reasonable for two reasons: humans at this time in history where very, very dirty and, as demonstrated by Professor Latto. It was not uncommon for people to have bugs living among their many layers of clothes like that clergyman they buried. Second, because if the fleas on humans carried the disease, the rats would not have had to do any travelling, they only had to infect fleas who were then whisked off by people as they travelled. I thought this was super interesting so if you want to read more, here’s the link:

No comments: