The Echoes of History: Analyzing Epidemics (Black Death Plague), Then and Now

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Preceding medical and biological research suppressed historic domestic and worldwide pandemics, but is modern society confident in the anterior brand of resilience? The World Health Organization (WHO) publicized an assertion that specified the potential of an unidentified infection as inevitable as opposed to probable, which evokes the process of procuring remedies as an endless quest and a common worldwide priority (Galsper, 2020). Glasper (2020) further suggested the modern-day spread of epidemics is conclusively associated with international travelers or intercontinental migrations.

However, politics and accountability seemingly infringe on the desired level of unison to combat global pandemics. American government suffers bipartisan accords, and lawmakers struggle with government and state authority to regulate threats of pandemics (Klain, 2018). Globally, culpability encumbers public safety in an effort to save economic desires for the perspective country. Experts who conduct investigative research to curb epidemics are confronted with the two main topics of this narration: research resolution for perseverance and the fluctuation of politics.

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Epidemics; Trending Analysis

Viruses such as the Bubonic Plague, smallpox, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) are just a few that have plagued populations for generations on a global scale, claiming millions of lives. The existence of pandemics dates back to the prehistoric age that still afflicts havoc in our current society. Infectious diseases that manifest into epidemics are the leading cause of death in human history (Mead, 2019).

Although widespread viruses prove to be deadly, each disease substantiates different levels of lethal potency. The correlation between the Bubonic Plague and smallpox is both viruses are substantially deadly, but the foundations of the plagues are dissimilar. The Bubonic Plague confirmed a mortality rate of 80%, and the smallpox outbreak verified a mortality rate of 30% (Mead, 2019). Paul Mead (2019), Chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch of the Center for Disease Control, simulated that pox is caused by a virus, and humans are determined to be the exclusive host of the illness, whereas the spread of the Bubonic Plague generated from the bite of a flea or another host. The conclusion of this study proves the onset of any epidemic is the key to reaching a plausible containment and vaccination. However, medical research and development to curb the effects of a disease is confronted by a social aspect and perspective that sways politicians, which impedes the process (Klain, 2018).

Bubonic Plague

Among a variety of viruses, the Bubonic Plague and smallpox will be examined as a focal point. The Bubonic Plague overwhelmed humankind on a global scale in the mid-1300s. This epidemic was generated in Europe and Asia in 1347 when ships reached a destination in Sicily after crossing the Dead Sea (Dols, 2019). Dols (2019) narrated half of the occupants and workers aboard this ship perished from an illness, and the other half presented unknown symptoms: black boils with oozing pus accompanied by other complications. Despite the need for medical attention, the Sicilian government ordered the ships to leave the harbor. Despite the reaction of the Sicilian government to turn the infected ship away, the plague claimed the lives of 20 million people in Europe, which was later identified as the Bubonic Plague.

According to historical evidence, Europeans learned of the pestilence before the plague ship arrived in the Sicilian Harbor (Mulhall, 2019). Mulhall (2019) specified that Europeans heard of the disease spreading across the trade routes in China, India, Syria, and Egypt. The Bubonic Plague was later termed the “Black Death” Plague and fashioned the alternative title from the ship that crossed the Black Sea into the Sicilian port. The Black Death Plague was deemed highly contagious, which caused widespread infections. In addition to ‘oozing boils,’ other symptoms were fever, chills, vomiting accompanied by diarrhea, and body aches. All of these are attributed to blood and lung infections that result in death when untreated (Mulhall, 2019).

This epidemic was generated from insects and rodents that spread to humans. Once the human was infected, the disease was able to spread to another by simply breathing the same air as the infected individual (Dol, 2019). Politicians warded all imports that impacted local economies, and citizens ultimately suffered the loss of employment. Experts conducting the research urged this type of isolation to minimize the spread, but locals revolted and ultimately rescinded precautions, causing more devastation (Malhall, 2019).

Small Pox

The smallpox epidemic predates the Bubonic Plague, and historians asserted this plague began to eradicate humans 12,000 years ago. The manifestation of smallpox resulted in a highly contagious disease that killed an estimated 7 million people (Meyer et al., 2020). This epidemic was generated in Athens in 430 B.C. and imminently infected Egypt by 1570 B.C. The similarities between the Bubonic Plague and Small are that both developed pus-filled legions that eventually affected the bloodstream and lungs, causing death. Smallpox ultimately caused disfiguration and blindness before inflicting death if untreated.

However, the difference is the onset of the diseases. Smallpox is proven to spread from human to human as opposed to air contagions, and there is no evidence of spread through insects or animals (Meyer et al., 2020). Therefore, humans are the sole host of this plague, but it is believed that healed patients were not susceptible once immunity was established. Therefore, injecting small amounts of the disease would create immunity, but it was not a full-proof vaccination (Meyer et al., 2020). The notion was capitalized in England in 1796, when indirect exposure proved to have a lasting effect (Eto et al., 2019). The WHO finally eradicated the smallpox epidemic in 1980, and the search for a vaccination took centuries to resolve.

Smallpox is blamed for being used as a biological weapon during the French and Indian War in 1763. Historians recalled the British Commanders inflicted the disease against their rivals and reduced the Native American population by 90 percent (Meyer et al., 2020). Rival countries would target opposing rulers with the disease, which would eventually spread throughout the contending regime (Meyer et al., 2020). Despite the deadly aftermath of the smallpox epidemic, this disease was a driving force for political gain, and medical urgencies were suppressed.


Historically, epidemics proved to have an impact on international cultures. Despite the death toll, diseases tore down and built many countries depending on the perspective. However, the threat of plagues continues to be a looming concern. In contrast, the Bubonic Plague and smallpox inflicted international devastation that changed history. Did the effects of past epidemics invoke current lessons to curb looming epidemics? Depending on the perspective amid the COVID-19 infection, the same trepidations experienced centuries ago still remain.

To limit the Black Death and Small Pox epidemics, the source of the disease was pursued much like the intentions of current experts to get rid of the COVID-19 virus. Moreover, locals demand leaders lift restrictions and return to work despite the threat of an active epidemic, similar to the locals reacting to the Bubonic Plague. In addition to the domestic concerns, COVID-19 was generated in another country before infecting America and likewise to the forenamed plagues. This narrative is not to point out blame but to highlight the trending facts of past epidemics, proving history actually repeats itself.

Research and development derive around the onset of the infection; lawmakers and leaders utilize the vulnerability for political gain, and governments ultimately make efforts to curb the pandemic. Economies suffer, and panic strikes the populations. Despite the innovation, the study to curb a pandemic is persistent with past plagues, and the reaction of the populous and politicians presents a comparable trend to the old.


  1. Dols, M. W. (2019). The black death in the Middle East. Princeton University Press. Retrieved from:
  2. Eto, A., Fujita, M., Nishiyama, Y., Saito, T., Molina, D. M., Morikawa, S. & Kanatani, Y. (2019). Profiling of the antibody response to attenuated LC16m8 smallpox vaccine using protein array analysis. Vaccine, 37(44), 6588-6593. Retrieved from:
  3. Glasper, A. (2020). Potential global pandemics: the role of the WHO and other public health bodies. British Journal of Nursing29(5), 322–323. Retrieved from
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  5. Mead, P. (2019). Epidemics of plague past, present, and future. The Lancet Infectious Diseases19(5), 459–460. Retrieved from:–1.
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  7. Mulhall, J. (2019). Plague before the Pandemics: The Greek Medical Evidence for Bubonic Plague before the Sixth Century. Bulletin of the History of Medicine93(2), 151–179. Retrieved from:

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The Echoes of History: Analyzing Epidemics (Black Death Plague), Then and Now. (2023, Aug 29). Retrieved from

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