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  • You've been feeling pretty lonely lately, so you decide that it's time to get yourself

  • a pet.

  • But you don't want to be too mainstream about it, so instead of a nice dog or cat you opt

  • for a rat- hey, rats can be cute too you know.

  • You and your rat, Wilbur, quickly become best of friends, but then one day your best rat

  • buddy picks up an unwanted hitch hiker- a flea.

  • Then Wilbur's flea decides that it'd like to take a chomp out of you, and without you

  • even feeling it, the tiny flea has bitten you and sucked on your blood.

  • For the next three days you and Wilbur continue your best friendship, going on best friend

  • adventures and solving mysteries together- then on the fourth day you start to not feel

  • so hot.

  • You chalk it up to all the excitement you and Wilbur have been sharing lately, but as

  • the symptoms progress you start to feel like you might have the flu instead.

  • Then suddenly you start growing what look like huge blisters in your armpits and groin,

  • and the tips of your fingers turn black as the flesh begins to die!

  • Congratulations, because you've got the bubonic plague and much like most of Europe back in

  • the 1300s, you're about to be dead.

  • The plague, or black death as it is most commonly known, has its origins amongst the fleas of

  • rodents from the Central and Western Asian region of the world.

  • It's believed that climate change during a period of warming during the medieval ages

  • caused the rodents who carried the infected fleas to flee the drying up grasslands, while

  • those rodents who didn't believe in climate change stayed behind and died.

  • Forced into close contact with humanity, the fleas of these rodents began to feast on our

  • soft, supple human flesh, and in return infected us with the plague.

  • Historians believe that the plague killed off many early populations of humans before

  • naturally receding, but what would come to be known as the Black Death kicked off in

  • earnest early in the 1300s.

  • A secession of natural disasters and lesser plagues hit south and central asia, which

  • led to widespread famine.

  • Not wanting to be left out of the 'kill all humans' party, the bubonic plague arrived

  • in 1331, and is believed to have killed 25 million Chinese people before it finally reached

  • Constantinople in 1347.

  • Mongol raids and travelers along the famous silk road are believed to have pushed the

  • disease further and further west, but it wasn't until Genoese traders brought plague-infected

  • fleas into the port city of Kaffa in Crimea in 1347 that the bubonic plague went mainstream.

  • Pretty soon the black death, as it was known by then, was all the rage amongst Europeans,

  • and by 1351 it had reached as far west as Spain and as far north as Russia.

  • Before the black death went out of style, it had killed between 75 to 200 million people,

  • and it's believed that it took the world 200 years to recover the numbers lost to the disease.

  • In the wake of the plague, zealous persecution of various scapegoats blamed for the outbreak

  • led to the deaths of many thousands more, including Jews, friars, foreigners, beggars,

  • pilgrims, lepers, gypsies, and people who get to the front of the line at Starbucks

  • and have to check the menu because they still aren't sure what to order.

  • The plague had had such a good time in Europe though that it revisited the continent intermittently

  • throughout the 14th and 17th centuries, causing many hundreds of thousands of additional deaths.

  • In 1771 the Plague hit Moscow and killed between 50,000 and 100,000 people, or as much as 33%

  • of the city's population.

  • A hundred years before that the plague killed 100,000 in London.

  • Like adventurous European university students though the plague went global, and between

  • 1500 and 1850 the plague was present in at least one location throughout the entire Islamic

  • world.

  • So you've gone and gotten yourself infected with the Black Death- because maybe modern

  • diseases are just too trendy for you- why is this the worst thing that could ever happen

  • to you?

  • Well, first, could it happen to you?

  • The answer to that question is no, humanity has long since overcome the terrible affliction

  • known as the Black Death and is safe from the ravages that once killed hundreds of millions

  • of people.

  • Just kidding, you can totally get the Black Death today, and if you think you're safe

  • in your First World life because surely it's only a disease that strikes at the most remote,

  • poorest regions of the world, you may want to think again.

  • As of 1900 the Black Death had made its way to the United States, when an epidemic struck

  • San Francisco and lasted until 1904, then quickly made a comeback throughout 1907 and

  • 1908.

  • While that was over a hundred years ago and we have developed many drugs and treatments

  • for the plague, just in October of 2017 the deadliest outbreak in modern times hit Madagascar

  • and killed 170 people while infecting thousands more.

  • But that's in an island off the coast of Africa, and San Francisco was over a hundred years

  • in the past, surely we're safe today.

  • Once more, no, absolutely not, and in fact the western United States is one of the largest

  • geographic areas where the plague is reported in wild animals and livestock alike- so keep

  • that in mind next time you decide to hit up a petting zoo.

  • But what about the plague is so terrible?

  • Well, before we tell you we'll warn you to go ahead and finish eating if you were eating,

  • or to cancel any lunch or dinner plans you may have had coming up, because we doubt you'll

  • have the appetite after this episode.

  • It starts off with a flea bite, or perhaps a bite from an infected rodent, and then suddenly

  • your body is host to a nasty little bacteria called Yersinia pestis.

  • Our bodies however have had plenty of exposure to the plague by now, seeing as Yersinia pestis'

  • favorite historical past time was to murder all humans, and so the body has learned to

  • very quickly recognize Y. pestis from a unique molecule in its outer membrane.

  • Unfortunately, some time in the past Y. pestis caught on to this fact and now when it detects

  • a temperature of about 98.6 degrees (37 Celsius), the bacteria figures that it's inside a warm

  • blooded mammal.

  • This triggers Y. pestis to modify the structure of the give-away molecule, effectively blinding

  • your body's immune system to its real identity.

  • With your immune system fooled, Y pestis makes a mad dash for your lymph nodes- which seems

  • like an odd choice for an invading bacteria because your body's lymph nodes are basically

  • immune system fortresses, and constantly looking for foreign invaders to wipe out.

  • For any other bacteria this would pretty much be a suicide run, but Y pestis is basically

  • the Seal Team Six of bacteria.

  • Your body immediately tries to stop the bacteria with white blood cells, the cells responsible

  • for immune system response, but Y pestis responds by shooting these responding cells with an

  • appendage that injects toxins directly inside the cell's membrane, destroying it.

  • After owning the crap out of your immune system, Y pestis needs to recover by getting a hold

  • of some iron, and luckily for it your body is chock full of it.

  • Unfortunately for the bacteria, all that precious iron in your body is wrapped up in hemoglobin

  • and other proteins- or unfortunate for you really, because if you've learned anything

  • by now it's that Y pestis gets what it wants when it wants it.

  • While it holds the fort down in your lymph node, each bacteria releases a molecule called

  • yersiniabactin which has a very high affinity for iron.

  • The molecules cruise through your blood system on the lookout for a specific iron-rich protein

  • in your body called transferrin.

  • Once the molecules find some transferrin they literally rip the iron away from the protein,

  • destroying it in the process, and bringing it back home to Y pestis.

  • By now the plague is happily making your lymph nodes into its new home, kicking up its feet

  • and replicating out of control thanks to a rich supply of iron.

  • At this point you're definitely feeling under the weather, with general flu-like symptoms,

  • but if you're like most people you ignore these symptoms and push through without going

  • to the doctor.

  • In this case your failure to get checked out will be fatal, as with modern medicine the

  • plague can be cured in over 90% of cases if caught early.

  • If not, well your odds aren't very good at all.

  • At this point your lymph nodes begin swelling up, which create the iconicbuboesso

  • characteristic of the bubonic plague.

  • These look like very large blisters and can appear on the arms, leg, groin, and arm-pits,

  • can grow to be as big as an apple!

  • By now you're going to have a really high fever and might even be vomiting blood, and

  • if any of those buboes burst open you'll be oozing pus and other disgusting fluids from

  • the open sores.

  • This can be extremely dangerous, because buboes that are burst open can lead to secondary

  • infections from other bacteria, but luckily for you you'll be dead long before any of

  • these infections can properly set in.

  • Gangrene can also set into extremities, and fingers and toes can blacken as the flesh

  • dies and eventually fall off.

  • Incredibly, it's not the plague that kills you though, but rather your own body that

  • does the deed.

  • With Y pestis bacteria throughout your blood stream your immune system totally loses its

  • cool and triggers a condition known as septic shock, causing your blood vessels to leak

  • which lowers blood volume, clotting, and eventually, organ failure.

  • Luckily though modern medicine is able to cure plague if caught quickly enough, though

  • many doctors today worry that the plague will very quickly begin to develop an immunity

  • to most of the drugs we use against it.

  • This has prompted a renewal of the arms race that has lasted for millennia between man

  • and bacteria, and it's hoped that new vaccines and antibodies can be developed to stop the

  • plague before it kicks off another world tour and leaves millions dead in its wake.

  • Where in the past the remote nature of most human villages and cities made it difficult

  • for the plague to be transmitted and thus limited its lethality, today's hyperconnected

  • world would let the plague travel around the world in as little as a day, and an outbreak

  • that started far overseas could be in your neighborhood by that evening.

  • In fact, it might already be there, and we might all be on the verge of the next huge

  • outbreak.

  • Do you think we could survive another outbreak of the plague?

  • Let us know in the comments!

  • Also, check out the brand new channel called“I Am.”

  • Real stories come to life as they're told from the perspective of the people who lived

  • it.

  • Check out “I Am a Plague Doctorright now and be one of the first to subscribe!

You've been feeling pretty lonely lately, so you decide that it's time to get yourself

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Why The Black Death (The Plague) Is The Worst Thing That Can Happen To You || I AM Channel Teaser

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    蔡育德 posted on 2020/01/23
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