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Mankind's 13 Deadliest Diseases

Adam Starr | AllHealthcare

13. Bubonic Plague

The most famous outbreak of the bacterial disease known as “plague” is caused by Yersinia pestis. It is an infection that travels through the lymphatic system and spreads through fleas carried by rats. Bubonic plague kills 50% of victims within a week if untreated, it was known as the Black Death when it decimated millions of Europeans during the Middle Ages (1300s). This most famous of pandemics killed more than 25 million people, or ¼ of the European continent’s total population.

The plague is thought to have originated in the Egyptian desert and then spread through trade routes by rats stowing away in merchant’s caravans and boats. Other researches contend that the plague began in the East and spread throughout Europe from Asia. The plague kills after swelling lymph glands into buboes found in the armpits, groin, and throat regions. The nursery rhyme “Ring Around the Rosy,” alludes to the plague’s rose-colored soars that painfully made everybody “all fall down.”



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