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Romeo and Juliet : The Black Plague

Mrs. Kaiser's Class - Exploring Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

The Black Plague


Plague is an acute, severe infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacterium is often found in fleas and wild rodents such as rats, squirrels, chipmunks or prairie dogs. Plague is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted to humans through animals, most often through the bites of fleas or through direct contact with infected animal tissue. Symptoms include an abrupt onset with chills, fever, and enlarged, painful lymph nodes (buboes). Treatment must start immediately to avoid life-threatening complications. Although plague is extremely rare in the United States, interest in the disorder has heightened in recent years because of its potential use as an agent of biological warfare.


  • Black Death
  • Black Plague
  • La Peste
  • pestilential fever

What Do You Know?

Which synonym of the "Bubonic Plague" are you most familiar with?

What Do You Know?
Black Death: 62 votes (53.45%)
Black Plague: 38 votes (32.76%)
La Peste: 5 votes (4.31%)
Pestilential Fever: 11 votes (9.48%)
Total Votes: 116

Bubonic Plague

The most common plague illness in humans is called bubonic plague. After an incubation period of two to eight days following the bite of an infected flea, there is a sudden onset of fever, chills, weakness, and headache. Within hours, extremely tender oval swellings 1 to 10 centimeters in length appear in one anatomic area of lymph nodes, usually the groin, axilla (armpit), or neck. These buboes presumably result when the bacteria inoculated into the skin by the infected flea migrate to the regional lymph nodes. Many of these patients will have bacteria intermittently present in the bloodstream during the acute stage of the illness.

Bubonic Plague

Nursery Rhyme?

 Bubonic Plague

 Ring around the rosy,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes … ashes,

We all fall down.


A familiar nursery rhyme that children have recited as a harmless play song for generations ironically refers to one of Europe’s most devastating diseases. READ MORE

Bubonic Plague in History

The BLACK PLAGUE in New York

Nov. 7, 2002 -- Two tourists from New Mexico have been hospitalized in New York with what appears to be the first cases of bubonic plague reported in the city in at least a century. Officials say the husband and wife likely contracted the disease at their home in New Mexico and then developed symptoms while vacationing in New York. READ MORE


A man suffering from buboes and splotches

Bubonic Plage

The Black Death or bubonic plague was one of the most devastating crises in human history. Coming out of the East, it reached the shores of Italy in the spring of 1348 taking death tolls across Europe at an unprecedented rate in recorded history. READ MORE