The Plague!

“A Herbsife on a mule may go where warriors cannot – she may see what warriors cannot and see and hear what warriors cannon hear.”

A Swarming of Bees 

From Fact to Fiction

In A Swarming of Bees author Theresa Tomlinson writes about what Abbess Hild, ruling over Whitby’s Monastery, has to do when her community is attacked by the plague and the resulting panic. The term “plague” can still cause people to flinch, if only for a moment. Thankfully, we can now vaccinate against it in people in areas where the plague threatens, treat it in people with symptoms and prophylactically attack it in first responders who go in and help people where the plague crops up which it still does periodically. But historically the plague was a deadly menace to people in ages gone by.

According to medical texts, there are three forms of plague (carried by the common flea) all caused by yersinia pestis: 1) the common bubonic subtype, which causes buboes or swellings on the body (the Bubonic Plague of historical note), 2) the septicemic subtype, and 3) the pneumonic subtype.

The plague, readers will be interested in noting, has been with humans for quite a while. The famous outbreak in 1348 was not the first though it killed one-third of Europe’s population. According to the National Library of Medicine’s article “History of the Plague,” bronze age skeletons carried the Y. pestis DNA. The first recorded pandemic of the plague occurred around 541 and was called the “Justinian Plague.” They experienced 18 waves of it across Europe from India to Ireland. The one occurring in 1348 was considered the second plague and from then on isolated occurrences of the plague happened almost every ten years or so for about 400 years. This particular outbreak completely realigned European society resulting in a shortage of workers, a lessening of faith in religion, and a burgeoning of rage against the Jews whom people blamed for the sickness. There was a lesser-known third outbreak in 1855 starting in China.

Plague still exists in certain areas throughout the world but the main concern people have now is the possible use of the third form of the plague or the pneumonic subtype as a bioweapon. It is easily distributed and extremely deadly if not treated immediately. The recent Chinese balloon, slowly traveling across the United States and eventually destroyed off of South Carolina’s coast, should give one cause to pause…

Deborah Lynn



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *