The Worst Plague in History

by Claire Hollingsworth


The Black Death was a disease that spread across Europe in the late 1300s. This disastrous plague was caused by fleas. These fleas would live in the fur of black rats. As the rats got used to the flea, the plague would enter its blood stream. Then just one bite from either animal would cause people to come down with the plague. Since no one could explain the plague, people thought it was punishment from God.

Strange Symptoms

As the plague went on doctors started to take note of the odd symptoms. The most common sign of the plague was getting big bulbs on your skin. These bulbs where black and hurt extensively. The other extremely common symptom was bleeding, everywhere. The victims randomly start bleeding, and the black bulbs start to bleed. Also they might vomit up blood. Shivering and headaches are also some symptoms. If the victim has had the plague for a longer time than most, they could have an intolerance to light.

How the Plague is caught and Shocking Recoveries

The Black Death was mostly spread animal to person. But it can be spread person to person by sneezing and coughing. When you cough or sneeze the droplets in the air get transmitted to other people. This horrible disease wiped out more than a half of Europe's population. Very few people recovered from this sickness. Some of the wealthy would sit between fires, because the bacteria from the plague could not survive in the intense heat. One doctor went around to people who had the plague, since he was around the sickness so much he did eventually come down with it. He treated himself by heating a cup, and placed it on the bulbs in an attempt to get the bacteria out. He survived and recorded his discoveries in a journal.

Life before and after the Plague

In Europe, before the Black Death, the population was around 100,000 people. After the Black Death, the population was less than 50,000. Europe was already going through, and getting over, previous disasters. So, this heart-breaking plague was not what they needed. It would take two hundred years before Europe alone would be able to replenish its population. After the plague, Europe suffered in setbacks in labor, art, culture and economy. Tragically, families were torn apart, and cities were deserted.

Differences between wealthy and poor life

As the plague continued its spread across Europe, some of the wealthier people tried to escape. Yet, the plague went with them. But, the poor could not leave, so they just stayed where they were until they, too, died. People could not escape this mysterious plague. It followed people wherever they ran. The Black Death struck all.

Modern day Black Death

"The disease never vanished entirely " says the author of How the Black Death Came to An End. This is true because the Black Death lingered on for centuries after the 1400's. It is still heard of in the United States, but it is now treatable. In 2015, there have been fifteen reported cases, four of which resulted in death. The latest case was a sixteen year old girl from Oregon. Doctors believe she got a flea bite on a hunting trip. Interestingly, since 1995, there have been eight cases in Oregon.


The Black Death not only destroyed Europe's economy, but also destroyed many families. The Black Death continues to haunt us even today. The Black Death was truly a devastating event in our history.


Encyclopedia, Online Encyclopedia & Free Learning Site | World Book. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from

Jeffrey, G., & Poluzzi, A. (n.d.). The Black death. - Where the Middle Ages Begin. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from

Brien, S. (Director). (2004). Mystery of the Black Death [Motion picture]. Distributed by PBS

HomeVideoNews NOW. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from