Over the course of human history, there have been numerous different times when human beings as a species have had to go to battle with devastating diseases and illnesses.

Most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, in 1918 the Spanish Flu infected and killed millions around the world, prior to that, Tuberculosis had its reign. Numerous other diseases have also had severe impacts on humanity as a whole.

Youtube: National Geographic
Youtube: National Geographic
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One disease though left an impact that has been unmatched by any other in history. That disease is referred to professionally as the Bubonic Plague but many know it by another name, 'The Black Death'.

Youtube: National Geographic
Youtube: National Geographic
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Though it is rather rare to see in the world present day, the Bubonic Plague does still makes sporadic appearances which with modern medicine has made it curable. However, without proper treatment, the disease can still be fatal and recently one man from the U.S. did pass away because of the illness.

History of the 'Black Death'

For those that don't remember the lessons from middle school and or high school history class, the Bubonic Plague spread like wildfire across Europe and Asia in the mid to late 14th century (1300s) and during its reign of fear, the disease killed around 200 million people. It has been estimated that the disease itself wiped out anywhere from 1/3rd to one-half of the entire European population, though some estimate the number to be as high as 60%.

Youtube: National Geographic
Youtube: National Geographic
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According to History, the disease...

arrived in Europe in October 1347, when 12 ships from the Black Sea docked at the Sicilian port of Messina. People gathered on the docks were met with a horrifying surprise: Most sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those still alive were gravely ill.

Those that were infected also had these black boils erupting from their skin, oozing blood and pus. The disease would spread across Europe with the help of rats and other small mammals or rather the infected fleas that lived on these animals. The disease was also spread via contact with infectious bodily fluids/materials and contaminated air particles.

Youtube: National Geographic
Youtube: National Geographic
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According to the World Health Organization, the disease showed up in two forms the Bubonic, where the sick would have these painful and swollen lymph nodes and the Pneumonic form affecting the lungs.

Bubonic Plague in America

To put this all in one gross little bow, the Bubonic Plague is a nasty disease. Which is why it was surprising to read about how just recently a New Mexico man contracted and passed away from the disease.

Though rare and despite modern medicine, if untreated or not treated in a timely manner, this disease can still be deadly. It marked the first time that someone had contracted the plague in New Mexico since 2021 and it was the first death reported since 2020, according to New Mexico Health.

Unsplash: Ahmed Adly
Unsplash: Ahmed Adly
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In total, there are only about 5-15 cases of plague reported per year and these cases have occured out West. That being said, in times of concern health officials warn people about...

  • avoiding sick or dead rodents
  • including rabbits and their nests/burrows
  • prevent pets from roaming and or hunting
  • get your pets proper flea medication
  • if you have a sick pet have them examined by a veterinarian
Unsplash: Joshua J. Cotten
Unsplash: Joshua J. Cotten
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Plague Symptoms and How to Treat

The plague presents itself with a variety of symptoms including, fever, head and body aches, weakness, nausea and vomiting, but those symptoms are all unspecific. The biggest symptom are those inflamed lymph nodes referred to as a 'bubo'. The disease also has an incubation period of between 7-10 days.

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Quick diagnosis and medical treatment is key to surviving the disease as it can kill in as little as 18-24 hours but with proper treatment of antibiotics especially if taken early can help one thwart the illness.

Plague Appearance in New York

Though American cases of the plague have happened out West, the disease has been in New York State before. According to an NBC News article released back in 2014, the most recent case of Bubonic Plague in New York came in November 2002.

In November of 2002 two tourists, a couple ironically from New mexico, were on vacation visiting New York City when they both came down with severe flu-like symptoms. The couple was identified as John Tull and his wife Lucinda Marker.

gorodenkoff
gorodenkoff
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The two were each diagnosed with the disease and while Marker recovered within just a few days, Tull had a much more difficult battle. Mr. Tull was hospitalized for more than two months while he fought the disease and in that time he fell into a coma and later had both of his feet amputated.

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In addition, at that time New York City was still reeling from the traumatic events of 9/11 which had occurred just one year prior. Rumors, speculation and gossip ran wild with citizens wondering if the appearance of plague had any connection to at the time potential terroristic threats.

John Tull, would eventually recover from his bought with the plague and roughly 12 years later he would pass away at the age of 65 after a brief battle with a rare cancer.

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