Bubonic Plague Explained: What you need to know about China-borne 'Black Death', symptoms, cure and more
New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk: A Level-III warning of plague prevention and control was reportedly issued in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous region, after two suspected cases of Bubonic plague were reported in Khovd province’s Bayan Nur city, located about 900 km east of Beijing. The plague suspects reportedly had consumed marmot meat.
The alert issued by the authorities makes it mandatory for people to immediately report any sick or dead marmot (large squirrel-like animals), and further disallows the hunting and eating of animals that could be the carriers of plague. The local health authorities have been reported as a moment when there is a risk of a ‘human plague epidemic’ spreading in the city of Bayan Nur.
Understanding Bubonic Plague
The World Health of Organisation says that the disease is caused by a bacteria Yersinia pestis, found in small mammals such as Mice, Rats, Rabbits, and Squirrels. The disease spreads from one person to another due to the bites of the fleas who have already fed on Yersinia pestis hosting organisms.
The most common form of plague is Bubonic plague, with its Pneumonic counterpart being most dangerous. Bubonic Plague is symptomised by painful swollen lymph nodes or 'buboes', which are visible in an infected individual after bacteria’s incubation period of one to seven days. According to Washington Post, ‘Black Death’ name comes from a Plague symptom: lymph nodes that became blackened after the infection.
Recent Plague Outbreaks
According to a report in The Week, between 2010 to 2015, there were 3,248 cases of Plague which were reported worldwide, resulting in 584 deaths. It is sporadically observed in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Peru. At present, Peru, the last in the list is also the fifth worst-hit nation by COVID-19 pandemic with over three lakh COVID cases and ten thousand fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID tracker.
The WHO says that Plague is symptomised by sudden onset of fever, chills, body aches, and weakness, vomiting and nausea. In bubonic plague sufferer, the lymph node becomes inflamed, tense and excruciatingly painful called a ‘bubo’. At advanced stages, the inflamed lymph nodes can turn into open sores filled with pus. When the plague advances to the lungs, pneumonic plague becomes the most virulent form of plague, resulting in blackening of nails and digits, and subsequent death.
Bubonic plague essentially demands urgent hospitalisation and treatment with antibiotics. Gladly, antibiotics can treat the vile disease, with an effective treatment stimulus resulting in only one death in ten individuals due to Bubonic plague.
Plague in middle ages
Bubonic plague was known to dispense ‘Black Death’ in the middle ages, which at one point killed off more than half of Europe's population. Globally regarded as the greatest playwright of all time, William Shakespeare’s two siblings also died of Bubonic plague in England, when the creator of ‘Romeo and Juliette’ was barely three-months old. Total fatality-count estimates due to Plague go as high as Two Hundred Million deaths between fourteenth and nineteenth century in Europe and North Africa, which wiped of complete cultures altogether.
One of such rare vanishing moments was that of the Valerian language during a Plague outbreak in Europe in fifteenth century, records of which were extracted from British Universities between 1970s and 1980s and the language was resurrected by fantasy-author George RR Martin in his ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ book series, which was further popularised by the runaway success of the adaptation of Martin’s books as ‘Game of Thrones’ by HBO in the pop culture from 2011 onwards.
The disease is believed to have been brought under control by strict quarantine measures and stringent public hygiene norms put in place.
Posted By: Abhinav Gupta