The Death Of Antiqua, Pestis And The Black Death

986 Words 4 Pages
There have been few times in the history of the human race where civilization has been under the threat of extinction. One such time, arguably the most infamous, was when the Black Death ravaged the western hemisphere. For several hundred years, the cause of this devastating disease remained a mystery, however, recent analysis from the DNA of the victims of the plague indicate that Yersinia pestis a bacillus shaped bacterium, was the likely cause of this tragedy (Perry and Fetherston, 1997). The road leading up to Y. pestis becoming God’s bacterial agent of judgement was a relatively short one, as evidence suggests that the bacteria had divulged from Yersinia pseudotuburculosis as close to 800 years beforehand (Chain et al., 2004).
This change in the genome of Y. pseudotuburculosis actually yielded eight separate populations of the species Y. pestis, distinct only in the slight variations of their DNA (Achtman et al., 2004). These distinct populations are known as biovars. Three of these biovars, known as Antiqua, Medievalis, and Orientalis, have started endemic plagues: the Justinian plague in the sixth century, the Black Death in the fourteenth century, and the modern plague in the
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The Black Death, named due to the gangrene, or necrosis, that many infected individuals experienced, had many symptoms than increased the risk of transmittance. These symptoms included the blockage and swelling of lymph nodes, creating what is known as a bubo which the doctors believed should be popped, excessive vomiting of blood, and coughing. Though not inherently contagious from person to person, the popping of the buboes where the bacteria resided often caused the disease to progress to septicemic plague, which allowed the blood to become infected which in turn allowed infected individuals to transfer the Y. pestis without the need of a host

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