Plagues are bacterial infections that have caused some of the most devastating pandemics in human history. It remains endemic in rodent populations throughout the world. These outbreaks are not always large, and modern antibiotics make them relatively easy to treat; however, a plague can still be fatal if left untreated. Although rare today, a plague is highly infectious and may spread rapidly in areas without public health infrastructure or where people live in close contact with wild animals. Read along to learn about the Black Death.

Oriental Rat Flea Carrier | Source: Wikipedia

Spread Of The Plague

The Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. It peaked in Europe between 1346 and 1353, killing an estimated 30-60% of Europe’s population. The Black Death originated in the dry plains of Central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road, eventually reaching Crimea. The plague spread throughout Europe and the Mediterranean over the next few years.

Illustration of the Bubonic Plague Transmission | Source: AS

It’s believed that the plague was carried by rats and fleas on merchant ships. The disease spread quickly throughout the continent, thanks to its lack of immunity. The black rat is believed to have been the carrier of this deadly disease, as it traveled with merchants along one main trade route: The Silk Road. This ancient road connected major cities in China, India, Persia (Iran), Arabia, Syria and Egypt.

Progression of the Bubonic Plague | Source: Wikipedia

Because there were no antibiotics or vaccines at that time to treat people suffering from the disease, they used herbal remedies such as mustard seeds and vinegar to reduce fever. Thankfully today, because of antibiotics and improved standards of living, the plague is now rare in industrialized countries. However, isolated cases continue to occur in rural areas of Africa, Asia and South America. It’s important to remember that while the Black Death is responsible for the death of millions of people, it wasn’t the first plague to sweep Europe. There are records of similar outbreaks which caused massive destruction but less than the Black Death.

Great Plagues: Six Coin Boxed Collection, w/ COA | Source: Banknote World

Coins From The Black Death

The Great Plagues: Six Coin Boxed Collection contains a coin from the Seleucid Empire, a Roman bronze of Claudius II Gothicus, a Byzantine issue of Justinian I, a Genoa billon minuto, and a 5-centimo coin from Spain. Coins of these kinds circulated during the six periods of the worst plagues, the Antonine Plague, the Plague of the Cyprian, the Plague of Justinian, the Black Death, the Aztec Cocoliztii, and the Spanish Flu.

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