Black Death Cause and Effect

3189 Words Jul 17th, 2013 13 Pages
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The Causes and Effects of The Black Death

The Bubonic Plague or the Black Death has been in the history books since the medieval times. This deadly disease has claimed nearly 1.5 million lives in Europe (Gottfried). The Black Death hit Europe in October of 1347 and quickly spread through most of Europe by the end of 1349 and continued on to Scandinavia and Russia in the 1350s. Not only did the plague effect the European population by killing one-third to two-thirds (Gottfried), it also hurt the social and economic structures of every European society.
How it spread
The Black Death actually first appeared in the Himalayan region around 1250 AD. There are several theories as to how the disease made its way to
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Almost all who contracted either the pneumonic or septicemic plague died from the infection (Boeckl).
Causes of the Black Death
The causes of the Black Death – the flea, the rat, and the bacillus Yersinia pestis– have been labeled the “unholy trinity” (Boeckl). The flea is able to live in environmental conditions of about 74° Fahrenheit and 60% humidity (Ibid). Before the Black Death reached Europe, they were experiencing those same types of weather conditions. The rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis and the human flea, Pulex irritans, are both capable of transmitting plague (Boeckl). Sometimes, an infected flea cannot ingest blood because Yersinia pestis obstructs its digestive tract. The blockage causes a flea to regurgitate into a bitten host rather than ingest the host’s blood, thereby infecting the host with plague (Boeckl). Unable to eat, the famished flea will bite with more frequency, accelerating the spread of plague. A flea can be carrying Yersinia pestis without it blocking the flea’s digestive tract, in which case the flea does not transmit plague when it bites a host. Also, Yersinia pestis can only enter a victim through a bite, as the bacilli cannot pass through intact skin (Gottfried).
Social Changes
The disease took a major toll on the population of Europe but as it wiped out communities it also caused changes in the social structure of European society. Europe was run by a feudal
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