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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/601

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THE BUBONIC PLAGUE.

disease was introduced by troops returning from the Danubian provinces. As so often has been the history of plague, the first cases were not recognized, and the existence of pest was denied. When the plague was demonstrated to be present, it is said by Haeser that three-fourths of the populace deserted the city. The disease began early in March and increased during the early summer months. In August over 7,000 deaths resulted, while in September the records show that 21,000 died. In October the plague decreased, but still 17,000 deaths attested to its fearful power. Early in January it became extinct, after a duration of ten months, and after having caused the death of more than 52,000 people.

Toward the close of the eighteenth century, at the time of the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and Syria, the French armies came into contact with the plague. Bonaparte's visit to the pest-stricken soldiers at Jaffa has been perpetuated in the historic canvas which is to be seen at Versailles.

During the nineteenth century the plague ravaged Northern Africa on diverse occasions. Constantinople was invaded in 1802, 1803, 1808. It was also present to a slight extent in the Caucasus and in Astrakhan. A notable plague epidemic appeared in Egypt in 1812, and soon spread through Turkey and Southern Russia. Constantinople and Odessa were severely scourged. In Odessa out of a population of 28,000 there died 12,000.

It is a noteworthy fact that the Napoleonic wars, with all their incident hardships and misery, did not develop or spread the plague in Europe. The outbreaks of the disease were limited during this period to Africa and to Turkey, Bosnia, Roumania, Dalmatia and to Southern Russia. Two exceptions, however, are to be noted. In 1812 the Island of Malta was infected and more than 6,000 of its people yielded to the disease. The epidemic of 1815 at Noja, in Apulia, was the first recurrence of the plague on Italian soil since 1743, and thus far it has been the last.

The Balkan Peninsula and Southern Russia were visited from time to time by the plague up to about 1841. For nearly forty years Europe was wholly free from the disease, which, however, continued its existence in Northern Africa, in Mesopotamia and in India. The Russo-Turkish war of 1878 brought the Russian troops into contact with the disease in the Caucasus, and the epidemic at Vetlianka on the lower Volga was unquestionably introduced by such returning soldiers.

Such, then, has been the history of the bubonic plague. No other epidemic disease can be traced authentically as far back as the 'Black Death.' The characteristic symptoms, the rapid death, the excessive mortality are all features which have been noted through more than twenty centuries. The plague bacillus discovered in 1894 by Yersin,