Lead: In the summer of 1348, the Black Plague swept through populous Florence, Italy, killing over one half the population.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Black Plague or Black Death was actually two major bacterial epidemics. The Bubonic Plague, the most common, was spread by fleas from person to person and involved “buboes,” (Latin for swollen lymph glands) which could swell to the size of eggs, giving the infected a grotesque appearance. The Pneumonic Plague (involving the lungs) was less common, occurring in about one in four plague cases, and was spread by respiratory droplets from an infected person. Because the victims of the plague often turned a purplish color due to broken blood vessels (causing bruises) or respiratory failure, which changed the color of the complexion, the term “Black Death” or “Black Plague” was used to describe the epidemics. After an abrupt onset of symptoms, which included chills, fever, nausea, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes in the upper thigh, armpit, and neck, death usually resulted in about four days.

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