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HLTA01 - Chapter 4


Department
Health Studies
Course Code
HLTB21H3
Professor
Caroline Barakat

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HLTA01
Plagues and People:
Chapter 4
An Ancient Plague, the Black Death
- Bubonic plague pandemics resulted on both social and economic rising
- Contributed to Justinian’s failure
- First bubonic plague 542-543 (Justinian Plague)
- Second bubonic plague 1346-1352
o Population of Europe and Middle East had declined from 100 million to 80
million
o Stopped the increase of population which had begun in 5000 BC
o Took over 150 years for the population to go back to its original size
- Known as the Black Death, the Great Dying, or the Great Pestilence
- Not only did the Black Death break the Malthusian stalemate, but it also allowed
Europeans to restructure their society along very different paths
- People recognized that the disease was contagious however no one knew the cause
- Believed to be “a vicious property of the air”
- Source of the second pandemic was the microbes left over from the first pandemic (the
Justinian Plague)
o Justinian plague moved eastward and remained endemic for seven centuries in
voles, marmots, and the highly susceptible black rats (central Asia)
- Plague infected rats
o Moved westward along the caravan routes between Asia and the Mediterranean
o Rats boarded the ships and were moved from port to port and country to
country
Spread the plague to the human populations that were living in
unhealthy, rat-infested communities/ cities
- Story of the Pied Piper was said to relate to this plague
- Florence one of the greatest cities of Europe
o Suffered a tremendous amount from the plague
o Black Death is mostly associated with this city
o Giovanni Boccaccio
Compared the disease to tumors growing in the armpits and groins
Affected both men and women
Said that people died within almost 3 days after the appearance

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- It was believed that only total isolation of the infected would allow the plague to ridden
or at least decrease in occurrence
- Although microbes were the cause of the plague, no one was able to discover this
because of the lack of equipment
o Everyone knew that it was the sickness itself that was the enemy, not the people
infected, however, to b safe people were still put into total isolation
- 1374; “Quarantine”
o Venetian Republic required that all the ships, crews, passengers and cargos ad to
stay on board in isolation for 40 days
- The restricted movement of the people in quarantine may have somewhat reduced the
spread of the plague, however the infected people were usually confined to their homes
living with uninfected family members and the infectious rats
- Some of the effective measures of public health included burning the clothes and
beddings of the infected people, and burying the dead in shallow unmarked graves
sprinkled with lyre
- Because the people were not able to identify the source of the plague, they resulted in
blaming the “outsiders”
- Religious and social aspects also began to change
o Feudal structure broke down
o Laboring class became more mobile
o Merchants and craftsmen became more powerful
- Decline in papal authorities
- People lost faith in Christian church
- Black Death did not disappear totally after its long affect on Europe
- Came back to Europe several times between 1347 and 1722 from the caravans coming
from Asia
- Third bubonic plague 1860’s
o Yunnan region of China
o The movement of the troops allowed for the disease to spread to southern coast
of China
- The plague infested rodents were able to spread the disease “easier” by the modern
steamships and railways
- Throughout the 3 pandemics of the bubonic plague, there is an estimated amount of
over 200 million people killed
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