A real eye opener. To find out the the black plague was not bubonic as commongly thought, but a haemorrhagic plague that killed not only thousands in the Uk, but millions world-wide. This plague returned to decimate entire cities time and time again over a period of 400 years or more, finally seeming to disappear around the early 18th century. Or is it just in hiding?
The book is well written and interesting and does not baffle you too much with science.
Haemorrhagic plague (I am reliably informed by the book!) is a very nasty little disease to catch. Like Ebola, the sufferer literally bleeds to death and his/her insides rot away, turning to liquid. The symptons of haemorrahgic plague are very similar to that of bubonic plague with the black `spots' or bubis being the blood showing under the skin. The final horrible, visible stages of the disease through to death are very painful and the sufferer experiences flu like symptons, vomiting blood, and diarrhea and finally falls into a coma. According to the book some sufferers were in so much pain that it drove them mad and they would throw themselves into the street screaming or even out of windows in a bid to escape the pain. These final symptons take place over a few days (from 5 to 12) and at present there is no known cure.
The authors set out to prove that the black death was caused by hemorrhagic plague, by showing the following differences: that the incubation and infectious period was a lot longer in heamorrhagic plague (approx 32 days) whereas the incubation period was a lot shorter in bubonic plague only 2 to 6 days. Therefore haemorrahagic plague was able to spread a lot wider as the killer symptoms only appeared in the final days of the disease and before that, the sufferer to all intents and purposes, seemed completely healthy. Bubonic plague is typically spread by rats and in accurate reports of bubonic plague, the biggest casualty is the rats themselves, no large number of dead rats were reported in the cases of the black death. Finally the black death spread over a large area very quickly, this would not have been possible if it had been spread by rats due to the short incubation period. It was more likely to have been spread by humans who traveled quickly on horseback and by carriage.
The final chapters look at the possibility of when it will return to Europe and look at what is likely to happen to the infrastructure when it does hit in large numbers. The authors believe that when it does reoccur, the only way to stop the spread is by quarantining large numbers of people, as there is no cure. These people are likely to die, but at least it will contain the disease. A nice thought to leave you with!!!