Concierto De La Muerta: Act 3 -Finalé
The year is 1855 and the 3rd act of bubonic plague broke out in Yunnan Province, China is about to begin. The thousand year long carnage is about to end.
If you've missed the previous 3 installments, visit them here:
This outbreak would spread throughout the Chinese territory and arrive in HongKong, Taiwan, Singapore. and eventually to India via sea trade routes preserved between the Chinese empire and the British colony of India. This one was particularly devastating as it left about 300,000 dead from 1896 through 1898.
The outbreak began in Bombay and Pune, on the country's west coast. By 1921, it would claim some 15 million lives - while the one in China would go on to kill more than 10 million, many of them in Manchuria, by the time it started to decline in the year 1910.
Not many people know that the 3rd outbreak actually arrived in the United States of America first appearing in California, and then in the surrounding states. It starting in 1902 and lasted until 1904. Then they made a comeback in 1907 and 1908.
...and As The Audience Give A Standing Ovation, Encore! ...
In 2014, a man from Oregon, USA, was infected with the plague after his cat, carrying the disease, bit him. It was reported that he had lumps under his arms, and his legs and right arm were black with gangrene, and he had lumps the size of apples - and was in a coma on life support for a month.
What made his situation worst was that he had all 3 kinds of plague in his system - yes there are 3 kinds of plague.
His cat Stefannie died shortly after biting him. Some of his fingers and toes were amputated. After surviving, he would be interviewed by a local television network: “I had collapsed lungs, my heart stopped, and my hands and feet turned black. I should not be alive."
In 2015, 2016, and 2017 a handful of bubonic plague cases was recorded in Arizona and New Mexico, and from the year 2000 to 2016, around 7 cases of the bubonic plague happen in the USA. In October of 2017 the deadliest plague occurrence in modern times hit the island of Madagascar killing 170 people.
All this chaos, all this bloodshed, the hundreds of millions of lives lost. 75% of the people who lived throughout the black plague was eradicated by a fiend unknown to them, but thankfully is now known to us. Let us meet the star of our show, the humble creature, tiny, malignant, and utterly unassuming.
Concierto Ends, Curtain Call Starts.
The bacterium behind the black death is Yersinia Pestis, a microbe - which according to recent research - is more commonly found in the species Rattus Rattus, particularly in those that scurry around the shores of the Issyk Kul Lake and by the foot of Tian Sham mountains in both Central Asia and the Chinese side.
Not much is known in the evolution of this microbe but what is known is that it can infect men and wildlife alike. It also can induce three kinds of infection, these are the bubonic, pneumonic, and the septicemic.
The bubonic variant, or commonly known as the bubonic plague was what ravaged the world for three acts in our Concierto.
The pneumonic was what caused heavy losses in China before the outbreak in Europe in the dark ages; for this infection the bacteria will settle in the lungs, eventually liquifying it. You will basically die coughing up your own lungs.
The third infection, Septisemic, will make you bleed to death as the infection ravages your veins and arteries essentially bloating you up with your own blood as the liquids in your circulatory system gush out of your veins. Quite frankly, none of these are a good way to go.
Incredibly, it’s not the plague that kills patients but rather the body committing suicide through septic shock, which is a condition that causes your blood vessels to leak blood and plasma which lowers your blood pressure extremely and eventually causing organ failure.
There is some evidence to show that the disease has been around even before the common era, possibly up to 3,000 years ago. So it bears to question that if this disease has been around for so long, how come mankind has not yet developed an immunity to it?
As a matter of fact, a study conducted at the time the infection spread throughout Europe, on plague victims and those in their immediate vicinity, shows that around 2% of the human population had a gene in their DNA that offers protection against the plague. Since the people who didn’t have the gene died off, those who survived lived on to pro-create. Now, 15% of Caucasians have a natural immunity to the plague.
Luckily or perchance of fate, during the final act of the Concierto of death - in 1984 Drs. Kitisato Shibasaburo and Alexander Yersin discovered the cause of the plague paving the way for treatments and medications that would prove a final closing salve against the disease. Their discovery did not only help in improving medicine, it also helped improve microbiology, urban planning, and sanitation, paving the way for new an bigger discoveries.
As The Curtain Falls...
As our world is devoured by the destruction that is Covid-19, and although the death rate is low, people are still dying - denying this fact for the consolation that only 6.4% die of the illness is not only insensitive but is highly and dangerously ignorant.
It is not the illness that kills us, it is our attitude towards it.
It's fascinating to think that nature's wrath in the form of a microbe led to the annihilation of the remaining vestiges of the Mongol Empire which might have been the reason why Europe and even Russia is not a "-stan" country. Even more fascinating that the deaths of hundreds of millions facilitated the start of t he Renaissance which kicked mankind farther and faster into the future.
I hope that by revisiting the past, we can look towards the horizon with a better understanding and a more adaptable frame of thought.
And as the curtain closes, we realize that never was a story of more woe and yet to move on let u go hand in hand and stride forward, not one before the other.
CentrAsia Tours is not just about tourism and beautiful scenery. The world is composed of a lot of beautiful things, many of which is art, music, theater, and literature. Some of the quotes in this article were taken from Shakespeare's works. We promote art and music as much as we do sceneries and history, because what is life if not a summation of all that is good, and all that is evil.
This is Rhiz Manalo, Managing Consultant and Co-Partner of CentrAsia Tours, Co-Founder of The White Dog Collective signing off.
You can also catch me on my personal portfolio