Black Death – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments

Black Death – What is it, Symptoms and Antibiotic Treatments. In addition, plague is a serious bacterial infection transmitted by the bacterium  Yersinia pestis, present on all continents of the world except Oceania. Humans acquire the disease when they are bitten by an infected flea or come into contact with infected material. There are three forms of Black Death infection , depending on the route the bacterium takes: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. Bubonic plague affects the lymph glands, causing swelling and inflammation in these areas. Septicemic plague occurs when the infectionspreads to the circulatory system, that is, to the blood.

Bubonic plague affects the lymph glands, causing swelling and inflammation in these areas. Septicemic plague occurs when the infection spreads to the circulatory system, that is, to the blood. It usually occurs as a complication of the bubonic plague, as the bacteria can leave the lymphatic system and enter the blood.

If the bacteria reach the lungs, usually through the blood, the patient develops pneumonic plague, which is spread from person to person through objects infected with mucus or through the air. Initial symptoms of bubonic plague appear 7-10 days after infection .

Early diagnosis allows the Black Death to be cured with antibiotics. If not treated quickly, the Black Death can be fatal. During medieval times, it is estimated that the Black Death killed 50 million people. Today the plague occurs in less than 5,000 people a year worldwide.

Black Death epidemics have already occurred in Africa, Asia and South America. But since the 1990s most new cases have occurred on the African continent. In 2013, 783 cases were recorded worldwide, including 126 deaths. The three most endemic countries are Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru.

Causes of the Black Death:  The  Black Death is a disease  caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which primarily affects rodents. It is transmitted from one rodent to another through fleas, which by biting the rodent carry the bacteria . Humans acquire the disease when they are bitten by an infected flea.

Symptoms of the Black Death: People infected with the Black Death usually develop flu-like symptoms after an incubation period of 3-7 days. Typical signs include:

  • High fever (39°C)
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body pain
  • Weakness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • Convulsion.

Types of the Black Death: The 3 Types of the Black Death , or “black death” because it is very remembered by historians, because it was once one of the most devastating diseases in history. In medieval times, in 1348, the plague reached Europe and decimated about 25% of the population, killing millions of Europeans. Today, however, there are few cases of the disease , around 1,000 to 2,000 cases a year worldwide. The places most affected by the plague are Asia, Africa and parts of South America. Here are the 3 Types of Black Death :

Bubonic Plague: The most common form of plague, it is usually contracted when you are bitten by an infected mouse or flea. This form of the disease affects the immune system, causing inflammation.

Symptoms of Bubonic Plague: They appear up to three days after infection are:

  • fever and chills
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • weakness
  • convulsions
  • enlarged lymph nodes (buboes) at the site of the bite, or sting. They also appear in the groin, armpits and neck.

Septicemic Plague: This form of the disease appears when bacteria multiply in the body. Septicemic plague can also be contracted by a flea, or by a rodent bite, it can also be caused by untreated bubonic or pneumonic plague.

Symptoms of Septicemic Plague: Signs appear within two to seven days after exposure, but it can lead to death before symptoms appear. Signs include:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • fever and chills
  • extreme weakness
  • bleeding (blood may not be able to clot)

Pneumonic Plague: This is the most serious form of plague, which occurs when bacteria infect the lungs and cause pneumonia. You can become infected when you inhale bacteria from an infected person or animal (this is known as primary pneumonic plague). The secondary happens when bubonic or septicemic plague is not treated. This form of plague can spread through scratches or bites from infected domestic cats, which the other two types cannot.

Symptoms of Pneumonic Plague: The symptoms of this phase appear very quickly, up to a day after contamination by the bacteria . Signs include:

  • Breathing problems
  • chest pain
  • cough
  • fever.
  • headache
  • general weakness
  • bloody sputum (saliva and mucus or pus from the lungs)

Transmission of the Black Death: Human contact with the Black Death occurs mainly through the bite of rats and fleas or, even, by air transmission. In its bubonic form, the bacteria enter the bloodstream and attack the lymphatic system, causing the death of several cells and creating painful swollen areas between the armpits and groin.

These swellings spread throughout the body and, by attacking the circulatory system, the infected person has approximately only one week to live. In addition to the lymphatic system, the plague can also reach the human being directly in the respiratory system. This version of the disease is known as pneumonic plague.

Treatment of the Black Death: The treatment of the plague, in all its forms, must be done with antibiotics . Streptomycin or gentamicin are the most commonly used options. Tetracycline or doxycycline are alternative options if streptomycin and gentamicin are not available.

Treatment must be continued for 10 days and the success rate, when started early, is over 90%. Infected patients must remain in respiratory isolation during the first 48 hours of antibiotic treatment to prevent contamination of others.

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