An Examination of Yersinia Pestis and its Effects
Yersinia pestis is a gram negative, rod-shaped, facultative anaerobic bacterium, known for causing the plague (Catlin). Y. pestis was first discovered by a French-born Swiss bacteriologist named Alexander Yersin in 1894 (Catlin). Yersin stumbled upon this bacterium while in China studying a plague epidemic there. Before its actual discovery Yersinia pestis had been causing havoc all over the world. About the worst disease in world history, the Black Death or Bubonic Plague which killed over 75 million people with approximately 25-50 million deaths accrued in Europe can be contributed to this relatively small microorganism (Bubonic Plague). It may have reduced the world’s population from an estimated 450 million people to between 355-375 million in 1400’s (Bubonic Plague). Beginning in Asia and spread by the Mongol tribes that dominated that vast area, the disease devastated China and the Middle East, interrupting long distance trade and cross-cultural encounters that had flourished for two centuries (Bubonic Plague). The plague was carried into Europe in 1347 by flea-bearing black rats infesting the commercial vessels that brought goods to Mediterranean ports (Bubonic Plague). The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population (Bubonic Plague). The Black Death is endemic to rodents and transmitted to humans by the common flea. In humans the disease invades the blood the glands under the arms and groin that would swell, sometimes to the size of an apple or an egg, and dark blotches would also appear on the skin (Catlin). These blotches had the same meaning for everyone, on whom they appeared. Everyone died within a week of the appearance of the blotches lending to the distinction of the 1348 outbreak (Bubonic Plague). Our best guess is that there was more than one variety of plague at work in Europe. There are three varieties of plague, the first being the Bubonic Plague. This...
Cited: Arnold, Paul. “How Does Yersinia Pestis Attack and Spread?” Bright Hub: The Hub for Bright Minds. Sep 24, 2009. Bright Hub Inc. Feb 16, 2010.
Catlin, Kristen. “Yersinia Pestis.” American Society for Microbiology. 5/12/2003. American Society for Microbiology. Feb 16, 2010.
"What is the Bubonic Plague?." 123HelpMe.com. 26 Sep 2013 .
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