The bubonic plague was an epidemic to hit most of Europe and the Mediterranean area in the year 1347 until the year 1351. The bubonic plague later became known as "The Black Death". Scientists are unsure of where the plague originated from. They do believe however that it was carried into Europe while shipping goods in by rats and other rodents. The bubonic plague is a bacterial infection that was transmitted through fleas. The fleas would bite the infected rats and then bite humans. This is how the disease was believed to have been spread. Victims of bubonic plague usually suffer from high fevers and swelling under the armpits or in the groin. Black spots would also appear on the arms and thighs. The bubonic plague would literally shut the immune system down. The body could do longer fight off infection at all. Many people who were infected with the plague would die within three days. It is believed that some victims of the bubonic plague actually would cut themselves at the infected area to let the plague "bleed out". When the skin was cut it would be a thick black substance that would drain. This and the black spots is where the term "Black Death" came from. Before this epidemic was over in 1951 it had claimed many lives. Overall Europe lost about one third of its population with many of its major cities such as Paris, Siena, and Florence losing from one half to two thirds of their populations. It is very hard to believe that any community or country could restore itself after this sort of population loss. Some Christian communities believed the plague was God's way of punishing or "weeding out" the sinners. So, to keep from getting the plague the Christians would ritually beat themselves as to "punish" themselves so that God would spare them from the plague. Eventually communities had to figure out an effective way to limit the impact of the plague. To avoid from becoming infected with the plague some cities actually stopped accepting travelers during the years of the plague. People could not leave their own towns without the permission of their Lord. It was clear that plague was most likely to arise in summer or early autumn. Also, observers noticed that plague most often settled in the poorest, most crowded neighborhoods. It was clear that avoiding contact with the sick was the best defense. Families moved from infected towns to uninfected
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