Ever since humans first hunkered around a fire, trying to stay warm, we have strived and struggled to make life better for ourselves. Life in modern first-world countries has come a long way from those primitive days when it comes to staying alive.
The three main causes of death (after birth, of course) are injury, illness, and aging. People with access to proper sanitation, nutrition, and healthcare live far longer today than our ancestors did. Birth rates are up and terminal diseases have been conquered.
Populations in countries with lower living standards reflect the resource shortages, absence of a consistent wholesome food supply, and ravaging effects of pollution with high levels of starvation and infectious contagions.
Western Europe during the Middle Ages (about 400-1400 AD) saw the rise of horrible wasting diseases, notably the Black Plague. It was so bad people gave it lots of names: the Black Death, the Pestilence or Pest for short, the Great Plague or simply the PLAGUE!!!
No one is sure how many lives were lost to the pandemic but experts say that somewhere between 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia succumbed to bacterium Yersinia pestis, which causes several types of plague: septicemic, pneumonic, and the most common, bubonic.
The Black Plague, named for the necrosis (cell death in living tissue, turning it black) of the nose, lips, and fingers reached its climax in Europe from 1347 to 1351 before dying down – so to speak.
The western world changed forever. The Black Death is estimated to have killed An estimated 30% to 60% of Europe’s population died from the Black Death. The global population numbering 475 million dropped to 350–375 million in the 1300s. It took 200 years for the world population to reach its pre-Plague level.
Outbreaks of European plague persisted into the 1800s. The Great Plague, for example, struck England from 1665 to 1666, claiming 100,000 lives in what was the last major epidemic of bubonic plague in the island nation.
Today, the plague has reared its ugly head again in underdeveloped countries that lack modern sanitation systems and healthcare facilities.
The 2013–2016 Western African Ebola virus epidemic was the most widespread outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in history. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone (all on or near the northwestern coast of the African continent) were hardest hit by the loss of life and societal upheaval. The mortality rate among hospitalized patients was 57–59 percent.
A total of 28,616 people were recorded infected of which 11,310 died from this virulent outbreak of Ebola, which is classified as viral hemorrhagic fever and is incurable. A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until becoming sick. The disease is not spread through the air. It can only be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.
Ebola virus disease (VHD) and other viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) damage the walls of tiny blood vessels so they leak, interfere with blood clotting, and produce internal bleeding that ranges from relatively minor to life-threatening.
There have been 33 Ebola outbreaks since 1976. On September 30, 2014, Liberian citizen Thomas Eric Duncan was the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. By October 4, his condition had worsened from “serious but stable” to “critical”. Four days later, on October 8, the Ebola infection killed Duncan.
Two healthcare workers became infected from Duncan’s Ebola virus after treating him at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital (THPH): 26-year-old nurse Nina Pham and 29-year-old nurse Amber Vinson. Duncan’s family won a lawsuit that alleged the Ebola patient had not received proper and timely care. A compensatory settlement was reached out of court wherein the hospital paid for Duncan’s expenses plus an undisclosed cash amount to the family.
In March 2019, the Black Death – the same bubonic plague to blight Europeans in medieval times – has broken out in Africa along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At least five deaths were recorded initially by health officials, raising concerns over containment.
In November 2019, bubonic plague was reported by Chinese officials after doctors diagnosed three cases of the Black Death. A 55-year-old man apparently caught the disease from catching, killing, and eating a wild rabbit that in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The patient is receiving treatment and the 28 people who had been in close contact with him were quarantined and showed no symptoms of the pestilence.
New strains are arising from an adaptation that defies the victims’ ancient immunity in places where there are few medical workers, hospitals, and medicines.
Cases of other devastating medieval diseases are cropping up in Los Angeles, California, where large homeless groups shelter in the trashy streets. The lack of running water and garbage services has allowed vermin such as rats to spread contagion – just as they did 150 years ago in Europe.
Typhus, tuberculosis, and the Black Plague threaten the growing urban wastelands of America. This fact speaks volumes about how U.S. citizens used to first-world conditions refuse to face the fact that throngs of displaced people are camping out without adequate life support systems, creating third-world conditions where there were none a few years ago.