Bubonic Plague Ellie Julen

The plague

The Bubonic Plague began in Europe. It starts with a bump appearing, typically around the armpit. It grows larger, and changes from a reddish color to black. This is where it gets the nickname "The Black Death". Sometimes the size of the common apple, others to the size of an egg, these " plague-boils" were just the beginning. Blood and pus seeped out of these strange swellings, which were followed by a host of other unpleasant symptoms–fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, terrible aches and pains–and then, in short order, death. The plague was extremely contagious, even after the infected person died, it wasn't safe to touch their clothes or get near their bodies. Once infected, the plague acted fast. You could go to bed healthy, and be dead by the next morning.

Curing the plague

Once the plague arrived, it spread rapidly. Because we didn't have modern medicine, people were infecting and dying soon after they got it. As people tried to find cures, not much worked. They tried almost everything. People started to believe the plague was a punishment from God, and began whipping themselves in hope for mercy. This gave them open wounds, allowing the plague to spread more. They moved underground into the sewers, because they thought the disease was airborne. Because the sewers were filthy and filled with human feces, the plague spread, along with other diseases. The "Vicary Method" consisted of people shaving a chicken's butt, and tying it to their swollen lymph nodes, in the hopes that the chicken would absorb the Plague. This ended up giving them all of the chickens parasites! Doctor's also cut open the buboes, causing more infection and making the open wounds more contagious.

How it arrived

The Black Plague arrived in England in October 1347, by sea. As ships docked at the port of Messina, people ran up to greet the ships. To their surprise, most of the crew was dead or infected with the deadly Black Death. The people were too afraid to load on the ship. The ship was infested with rats, which were infested with fleas. The fleas carried the disease, spreading it to all of England.

Where the Plague Spread
Disposal of bodies

Typically when you think of a funeral, you think of a coffin, and maybe some black clothes. Either way, a funeral is usually organized. During the 1300's in England, it defiantly wasn't. Because masses of people were dying, they didn't have enough time or room to have a proper burial. So many were dying at once, they couldn't keep control of everything. Not to mention, even on their death bed the infected were still highly contagious. People wouldn't want to get near the body in fear of them themselves getting infected. To cope with this, they had mass graves, where they buried hundreds at once, stacked on one another. They would also burn bodies.

The cure in present times

Plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Once a patient is diagnosed with the plague, they should be hospitalized and, in the case of plague, medically isolated. Laboratory tests should be done, including blood cultures for plague bacteria and microscopic examination of lymph node, blood, and sputum samples. Antibiotic treatment should begin as soon as possible after laboratory specimens are taken. To prevent a high risk of death in patients with plague, antibiotics should be given as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours of the first symptoms.

Plague Doctors

Plague doctors were people sent to help the villages where there were mass plague out breaks. Not only did the access the infected, they also helped record deaths. These doctors wore long overcoats, and a mask with a long beak on the front. In the beak, they would out herbs and other good smelling things to keep the plague air out. You would often see some of these doctors carrying canes, to lead the infected without coming in contact with them, and to access the patients without contact. These doctors looked very intimidating with their long beaked masks. Their typical job was to drain the filled buboes and put leeches on them. They were sometimes held in quarantine in worries the would affect others.

A plague doctor
Signs and symptoms

The symptoms start with the most typical, buboes. These are large blisters that pop up on your skin, typically along the groin or armpit or neck, filled with blood and pus. The next signs are high fever, chills, muscle cramps, seizures, and gangrene. These signs develop for two to seven days. The plague can be treated, only if you catch it early enough. However, its not likely you ll be cured considering how fast the plague works


The Bubonic Plague was a severe disease, that wiped out a third of Europe. It was extremely deadly, leaving few survivors. The plague had multiple outbreaks, deadly and thriving each time. Although, the citizens tried to fight the disease with their interesting means of healing, they ended up making it worse for themselves in the end. The plague not only brought sickness to the people, but also despair and chaos. Their world was turned upside down, and they were left with nothing to recover with. Even though the plague typically doesn't affect people in the United States today, its still thriving in some third world countries.

Works Cited






Created By
Ellie Julen

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