Notes on Plague Video

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies
Iva Zovkic

Video on Plague  47-year-old kindergarten teacher died of plague pneumonia o Reported that she had a cat that had become sick during the week prior to her illness o Outside cat that brought in a chipmunk o Sneezing, coughing, wheezing noted in cat  Plague is an animal disease that has found its way into Californian squirrels  From there it is transmitted to people’s pets  3 types of plague o Septicemic in the blood o Bubonic in the lymph glands o Pneumonic in lungs  Most contagious of all; can be spread by a sneeze  Were no secondary cases after the teacher  Strange because plague pneumonia is highly infectious and decimated populations in Europe  Plague evolved in marmots in central Asia o Native peoples learned to avoid them o But if the bacteria became more virulent it caused disease  When people began travelling from the area to other continents, the infection became an epidemic  3 major pandemics of plague o Really big one was the second o Took off in 1345  Medieval Europe was expansive o Developing greater commercial ties with the east o Bringing back products  Alongside the trade routes, there were disease routes opening up  Through Mediterranean, trading networks were opened up allowing the great developing European towns to become staging posts in transmitting disease to west  Sea travel took Black Death from Crimea to Greece and Italy then Europe  Late medieval societies were in considerable turmoil (feudalism, riots of peasants) o Towns are serving as centers of refugees o Desperately crowded o Lots of poverty o Lack of civic amenities and government  Breakdown of sanitary and hygienic living  Called Black Death because of the black pus-filled lymph glands (buboes)  1 in 4 people died  Few to care for the sick  People were lost, angry, and confused  Crisis in faith; clergy were decimated  Many blamed strangers such as the Jews for disease  No idea about germs  One theory was that disease was brought by miasma (heated air which rose from ground)  There was also notion of contagion o Something being transmitted between people  In the 300 years there was fear of the outsider which brought contagion  Impunities public heath measures rose especially in Italy o Isolated visitors for 30 or 40 days (trentana or quarantana) o Quarantine o Did not work because plague was also being spread by animal population o Between rats and even farm animals  Italian authorities formed public heath committees called sanitas o Ignorance, cruelty, common sense o Did not work well  J
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