The Spread of Black Death
“They died in
heaps and were buried in heaps.”
Daniel Defoe in England in 1665
It is extremely rare for a pandemic to
occur. The conditions necessary for this
type of global event to strike are severe.
Some of the pre-existing conditions necessary for this occurrence
include war, famine, weather and interactions between people. The civil war in China during the 13th and 14th
centuries led to episodes of widespread famine.
Also, at the end of the 13th century and into the first half
of the 14th century, disastrous weather had severe implications
worldwide. This so-called “Little Ice
Age”, shifted the reservoir downward into the direct path of the Asian trade
routes (TED 2). These trade routes came
in contact the Yersinia pestis as luxury items such as silk and spices
were brought from Asia to Europe. Also,
The Great Famine struck all of Northern Europe in the 14th century,
resulting in hunger and malnutrition.
The result was a mounting vulnerability to disease due to weakened
immune systems. A typhoid epidemic in
1318 became the predictor of the upcoming disaster. In addition to these situations, it is
necessary that the host population for the vector be stressed. This usually is the result of a disease state
or famine in the host which results in fewer sources of blood for the vector,
so they seek other hosts. Therefore, the
infection transfers from the rat host to human hosts.
spread of the bubonic plague from east Asia to Europe in the mid to late 14th
suggests that the Black Death spread from China in 1334 to Europe, primarily
along trade routes (TED 2). This
occurred both over land with merchant caravans, as well as at sea along sea
trade routes. Evidence supports the
transmission along sea routes by the observation that large active port cities
had the highest infection and mortality rates.
By 1347, the outbreak had spread into Europe. From Italy, the disease spread northwest
across Europe inflicting the inhabitants of France, Spain, Portugal, and
England by 1348. Following this
pandemic, there were isolated incidences of epidemics that occurred over the
next two centuries. It is estimated that
the original Black Death pandemic claimed 25 million lives in Europe alone.
pestis The Spread Cultural
Effects Controversies Modern