Suspicion Of Black Death's Return!

by: Grant Degollado


The Black Death was one of the deadliest epidemics in the history of the world; some of it still remains a mystery today. Now the history and characteristics of the the Black Death are unfolding right in front of us.

How it got started

It began as a harmless bacteria in the stomach of rats, which later became known as Yerinia Pestis. The disease was picked up by a rat somewhere in southeast Asia. Then fleas bit the rats that had the bacteria. The disease was genetically modified in the flea's guts. When a rat died the fleas hunted for a new host, humans! Records trace the disease in humans to the Chinese provence of Hopei in about 1347. Before humans got the symptoms they would travel west toward the Medditerean Sea. Then humans, rats, and fleas would get on boats with traders, soldiers, and merchants and sail to Europe, not aware the damage they would cause.

What Europeans Thought Caused It

When the Black Death or "The Plague", as it was known at the time, arrived in Europe and started taking lives, the Europeans had many different suspicions of what caused it. Many of them thought it was a punishment from God, or at least something religious. Some thought it was the hooded men called flagellators ,a gang who would travel from town to town to murder, while some Christians thought it was the Jews for poisoning Christian wells. Some also thought it was a result of foul vapors in the air.
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A 14th century Flagellator

Early Black Death Cures

Even though people were dying at a unbelievable rate, 14th century doctors were left puzzled and still had no cures. By the time people were developing the symptoms, it was already too late. The only thing doctors did was put posies, or bunches of flowers, on the bodies of the victims, to mask the horrible smell of their rotting corps, but it didn't slow the course of the black death at all. This is were the nursery rhyme "Ring Around the Rosies" comes from.
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A Doctor Trying to Find a Cure

How The Black Death Got Its Name

We know that the Black Death is a deadly disease, but do we know how it got its name? The name Black Death comes from the symptoms that occur when a human got it. If you got the Black Death you would develop huge black welps or boils, especially in the neck, armpits, and inner thigh area. Sometimes the boils would be as big as an orange. Also, victims would develop black rotting skin on the tips of their fingers and toes due to muscle loss.

The Black Death Today

I know what everyone is thinking, can we still get it today? Well, technically it never went away. What occurred after the first big wave ended in 1350, the survivor's immune system became immune to the plague. Basically the Black Death stopped itself. There is the occasional breakout, but mostly in countries within Africa and Asia. The most cases are in third world countries like Zambia, India, Malawi, Algeria, and China. The reason you don't hear about the Black Death in the United States is because we are more aware of hygiene than people in those countries. Annually there is only about 1,000 to 2,000 cases of the plague, but very few of those are fatal.


All in all, the Black Death killed about 25 million people in Europe and less than 50 million people in the world between 1348 and 1350. Something that started with just a little flea, yet ended with 1/3 of Europe's population. Nevertheless, it was and still is one of the deadliest epidemics in the history of the world.


ABC - Australian Broadcasting Corporation. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from

The Atlantic. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from

(n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from

"Like Black Smoke" (I looked on citation machine, but nothing showed up and its in our reading book 930-934)