Plagues

Consider the plague. I mean the actual, literal, bubonic plague, the disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. In this pestilential season the subject has been impossible to avoid, because so many people are calling coronavirus “plague” — even though, as pandemics go, they have almost nothing in common. Plague has an astonishingly high fatality rate — between 50% and 80% of its victims die — but is rarely transmitted directly from person to person, traveling instead through the bites of infected fleas. Covid19, by contrast, is much more contagious but significantly less fatal. And there are other distinctions. While the plague comes with painful, swollen tumors, running sores, and putrid secretions, coronavirus leaves no visible marks on the body. Most victims will survive it. Some might never even know they had it. There has also been plenty of talk about Ebola and AIDS and influenza and what all of

Thank you for reading!

To continue reading this article you must be a subscriber and be logged in to this site. If you already have a subscription, please log in now.