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Black Death


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Author Topic: Black Death  (Read 970 times)
Lisa Wolfe
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« on: June 24, 2012, 06:01:56 pm »

Symptoms


Contemporary accounts of the plague are often varied or imprecise. The most commonly noted symptom was the appearance of buboes (or gavocciolos) in the groin, the neck and armpits, which oozed pus and bled when opened.[28] Boccaccio's description is graphic:

    "In men and women alike it first betrayed itself by the emergence of certain tumours in the groin or armpits, some of which grew as large as a common apple, others as an egg...From the two said parts of the body this deadly gavocciolo soon began to propagate and spread itself in all directions indifferently; after which the form of the malady began to change, black spots or livid making their appearance in many cases on the arm or the thigh or elsewhere, now few and large, now minute and numerous. As the gavocciolo had been and still was an infallible token of approaching death, such also were these spots on whomsoever they showed themselves."[29]

Ziegler comments that the only medical detail that is questionable is the infallibility of approaching death, as if the bubo discharges, recovery is possible.[30]

This was followed by acute fever and vomiting of blood. Most victims died within two to seven days after infection. David Herlihy identifies another potential sign of the plague: freckle-like spots and rashes[31] which could be the result of flea-bites.

Some accounts, like that of Louis Heyligen, a musician in Avignon who died of the plague in 1348, noted a distinct form of the disease which infected the lungs and led to respiratory problems[28] and which is identified with pneumonic plague.

    "It is said that the plague takes three forms. In the first people suffer an infection of the lungs, which leads to breathing difficulties. Whoever has this corruption or contamination to any extent cannot escape but will die within two days. Another form...in which boils erupt under the armpits,...a third form in which people of both sexes are attacked in the groin."[32]
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