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Black Death

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Definition

noun

A pandemic outbreak often attributed to Yersinina pestis and considered as one of the deadliest pandemics in human history


Supplement

The Black Death is a pandemic outbreak that occurred in the 14th century. It is considered as one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, killing nearly half of the population of Europe and Asia. It is estimated to have caused the death of about 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, and about 450 million of the world population.

Yersinia pestis was believed to have caused the plague. This bacterial species is a gram-negative, rod-shaped, faculatively anaerobe. It belongs in the family Enterobacteriaceae. It causes bubonic plaque, which is transmitted by rodent fleas. Historically known also as the Black Plague, this disease devastated Europe and Asia in the 1300s. It might have originated from Central Asia. Yersinia pestis that caused the Black Death then might have been carried by Oriental rat fleas that lived on the black rats, which in turn might have spread to Europe and other parts of Asia as they were common pests on merchant ships.

The disease caused by Yersinia pestis still exists today and is characterized by sudden high fever, chills, excessively swollen and tender lymph nodes (buboes), followed by tissue bleeding and gangrene. Other complications include pneumonia and septicaemia.


Synonym(s):

  • Black Plague
* the Plague

See also: