Bubonic Plague, Bubonic Plaque Black Death and Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

I just read a news that bubonic plague his spreading in china Mangolia, also china reportedly announced a warning. So it just clicked in my mind to make a video and to write an article about what is bubonic plaque and how it is similar or differ from coronavirus and Black Death.

What is Bubonic Plague?

Bubonic Plaque is a rare but a very serious bacterial infection that's transmitted by fleas or rats.

The bubonic plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. It can spread through contact with infected (fleas bites) and rats.

Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, which can be as large as chicken eggs, in the groin, armpit or neck. They may be tender and warm. Others include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and muscle aches.

Bubonic plague requires urgent hospital treatment with strong antibiotics.

Bubonic Plague and Black Death

Bubonic plague is a disease caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium, which initially causes flu-like symptoms in victims, followed by swelling and blackening of the lymph glands, called buboes, which are commonly found in the armpits, upper femoral, groin and neck region. High fever and severe pain will follow, as well as a high chance of both seizures and gangrene in the extremities. Other symptoms include heavy breathing, continuous vomiting of blood, aching limbs, coughing, delirium, and finally death, mostly occurring within 8 days from the time of infection.

The disease is spread by the rat, flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) which jumps from rat to rat and from rat to human when their host rat dies. The fleas are immune to the disease, but when they bite humans, the bacteria are transferred from the flea’s stomach into the human victim’s blood supply.

For a long time it was thought that the Black Death which swept across Europe in the mid-14th century, and again in parts of Europe in the mid-17th century, was bubonic plague, but significant research has started to cast doubt on this. There are several reasons for this doubt:

1. Certainly in the 14th century, the only rats in Europe were black rats, which were not widespread, generally only being found in port towns and cities. They didn’t inhabit what were at the time wide open regions of almost uninhabited countryside.

2. The disease spread far too rapidly for rats to be the carrier, averaging at about 5 miles per day. Bear in mind how much of Europe, especially in the north, was uninhabited at the time.

3. The incubation time of this disease was much longer than the average 8 day period of bubonic plague, averaging closer to 30 days.

4. Symptoms described for the Black Death, although superficially similar to those of bubonic plague, spoke more of black swellings and patches all over the body, not specifically in the lymph glands.

5. The pattern of spread was also different. Very detailed records of the disease from the English village of Eyam exist, and apart from indicating the longer incubation period, show that the sequence of victims indicated spread by way of human contact. Many of the victims of the second and subsequent waves of the disease were relatives and close friends of the previous round of victims, people who had visited them whilst they were infectious. Rats, to which there are almost no references, would have needed to be highly selective to give this infection pattern!

Because of these factors it’s now thought that there’s a chance the Black Death was caused by an unknown form of haemorrhagic virus, working in a similar way to something like Ebola or Marburg. The symptoms match - high fever, black patches on the body, bleeding, gangrene, intense pain and death - as does the way and time it takes for the disease to spread.

So far there’s been no definitive conclusions from this research, and analysis of the remains of victims show no traces of the cause of death - unsurprising after all this time - so the question as to what the Black Death was is still open. Majority opinion does still hold on to it being bubonic plague, however evidence against that is stacking up, and pointing more to a haemorrhagic virus as being the cause.

Bubonic Plague and corona virus

Bubonic plague is caused by a bacterial infection (bacterium Yersinia pestis), while COVID-19 is caused by a virus of the corona family of viruses. The onset of plague is extremely fast with symptoms showing up in under a week, while someone with COVID-19 may not show symptoms for a week to two weeks after infection. While treatments are still being tested, as are vaccines for Covid-19, plague in its various forms (bubonic and pneumonic) is treatable with anti-biotics if administered promptly before toxins from dying plague bacilli reach a high enough level to cause organ failure.


Images: Google.

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