Home > Lifestyle > Man > Your health Updated 19 March 2013 Bubonic Plague: 15 scary facts This terrifying disease wiped out two-thirds of the inhabitants of parts of Europe in the 14th century. Is it still a threat now? 0 Pin It Follow us Facebook » Ask CyberShrink » Join Talk forums » Test Your sex toy IQ » The hardest part of growing a moustache 10 yucky hygiene facts The Bubonic plague signified real terror in urban communities for hundreds of years. Spread by infected fleas mostly living on rats in unhygienic urban conditions, this disease wiped out two-thirds of the inhabitants of parts of Europe in the 14th century. The plague returned for centuries, often in the summer months. It is thought that the Great Fire of London in 1666 was largely responsible for ending this scourge in London, as it destroyed many of the favourite haunts of the rats which bore the infected fleas.But in other areas, including modern urban environments, the Black Plague is still a reality – although a lot less terrifying since the advent of antibiotics.Here are some more facts about this disease:Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague. It occurs when an infected flea bites a person or, in rare cases, when material contaminated with the Yersinia pestis bacterium enters through a crack in the skin. In the 14th century it killed almost two-thirds of the inhabitants of northern Europe – mostly within three or four days of the time of infection.In 1347 the inhabitants of Genoa shot burning arrows at a naval vessel returning from war in the Crimea known to have bubonic plague on board. It spread nevertheless, and in four years killed 75 million people in Europe, often more than half the population of a given country.No one knew then what caused it: it turned out to be fleas spreading the plague from infected rats. But for many years people were under the impression that the disease was spread by filthy air. Often household pets or rats were the first ones to die, and they were blamed for this disease, leading to the killing of many pets as a (useless) preventative measure.Initially it was thought that disease was a punishment from God and that the patient was possessed by demons or evil spirits, which led to many sick people being killed in an effort to drive out the demons.The other two types of plague are pneumonic plague (which was also rampant in the 14th century) and septicaemic plague.Bacteria infect the lymph system and become inflamed. Patients develop swollen, tender lymph glands (called buboes) and fever, headache, chills and weakness. Infections caused by antibiotics can now be treated with antibiotics.Bubonic plague is not contagious between humans. In the 14th century it killed almost two-thirds of the inhabitants of northern Europe.Two-thirds of the students at Oxford died and in many European cities people died more quickly than they could be buried by the remaining population.Doctors had no idea what caused any of these diseases and there was precious little they could do to relieve the suffering of those around them. Superstitions abounded, everyone, including doctors, was terrified.In some areas entire villages were wiped out, as people were confined to their homes if even one family member became ill with the plague.Thousands of corpses were unceremoniously dumped into large limepits when churchyards overflowed. These burial sites are discovered from time to time when building work is undertaken in older urban areas. The discovery of plague pits is reputed to have delayed the building of the London Underground.The word quarantine is derived from Italian quarantena, meaning “forty days”, referring to the 40-day period of isolation practiced during the Black Death plague. Between 1348 and 1359, this plague wiped out an estimated 30% of Europe’s population, as well as a significant percentage of Asia’s population.(National Institutes of Health, the middleages.net. Health24)(Susan Erasmus, Health24, March 2013) Susan Erasmus More in Lifestyle 10 great foods for men More: ManYour health advertisement Get a quote Bestmed - offering you quality healthcare and freedom of choice Momentum - save up to 35% on healthcare Medihelp - quality, affordable medical scheme cover advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Add your comment Thank you, your comment has been submitted. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... From our sponsors Your retirement - a healthy mindset So many people, why so alone? You can still enjoy the sweet things in life Take the sugar test, it could save your life. Live healthier Grief » Phases of grief Culture and grief Grieving in holidays How do you deal with grief? There is no right way of coping with death. The way a person grieves depends on the personality of that person and the relationship with the person who has died. Weight loss » Healthy snacking Weight and heart Texting and weight 10 tips to lose weight Need to shed some weight? Get rid of those extra kilos for good with these 10 expert weight loss tips, compiled by Health24's DietDoc, Dr Ingrid van Heerden.