For this plague doctor to travel through time and help us with COVID-19, you’ll need to take his place in the past, where you could easily be exposed to an even deadlier pandemic known as The Black Death. It would start with a sudden fever, and before you know it, your hands could turn black, or horrific growths could cover your body. Without the miracles of 21st century medicine, would there be any way to beat this thing?
The Black Death is a deadly plague that struck Europe and Asia in the 1300s. Eventually, it killed over 50 million people worldwide. Once its bacteria infects your body, it would attack your lymphatic system, causing its trademark blood and pus-filled boils. Then it would spread to your blood and lungs, resulting in a variety of painful symptoms, and eventually, death.
Oh, and did we mention it was highly contagious? So, how could you avoid catching it? Why should you invest in a leather suit? And how could sunlight help stop its spread?
Step 1: Stay Away From Rodents
One of the main ways the Black Death can spread is through the bite of infected fleas and rats, so don’t let them anywhere near you. So come up with a new wardrobe that will protect your skin from any dangerous pests.
Wear coarse materials, such as leather, to protect your skin against fleas that might be carrying the plague. And find some footwear to protect your feet from dirty roads, rats, and other pests. Once your new rodent-proof outfit is complete, you should also reduce the rodent habitat around your home. This means removing any small shrubs, rock piles, and possible rodent food supplies.
Step 2: Don’t Touch Dead Bodies
This may sound harsh, as many would have lost loved ones during this pandemic. But touching the dead increases your chances of being exposed to the infected fluids on their bodies. This goes for dead animals too. If you have to remove a dead animal, make sure you do so wearing proper protective gear.
Step 3: Avoid Crowds
While you’re avoiding rodents and dead people, you should also avoid living people too. The Black Death is an airborne disease, so the more people there are around you to cough and sneeze, the higher your chances of getting infected. With that in mind, you’ll be better off avoiding places where large crowds gather.
Step 4: Stay Clean
Make sure you take baths often, and wear clean clothes. If you don’t have access to running water to take a full bath, make sure you at least wash your hands regularly with soap. Wash your clothes often, and leave them in sunlight if possible. Scientists have found that sunlight and drying destroy the bacteria responsible for the Black Death. So we recommend that you sunbathe your clothes, high-touch items, and linens as often as possible.
Step 5: Wear a Mask
Hmm, this one sounds familiar. The Black Death spreads through infected respiratory droplets in the air, so wear a mask to decrease your chances of getting infected. Build a multi-layer mask with breathable material. Or wear a leather one similar to the iconic beaked masks, and wear it whenever you’re in close contact with others. And don’t stop there. If you want to be extra safe, you should also consider wearing goggles to prevent the droplets from getting in your eyes.
Step 6: Don’t Travel
Traveling during a modern pandemic is a bad idea because you could help spread the virus, but traveling during a medieval pandemic would be even worse. During Medieval Times, travelers had to endure harsh and unsanitary conditions on the road for several days or months. So you would be at a much higher risk of contact with infected people or pests during your trip.
You and your family would be better off staying home as much as possible. So prepare a schedule and a list of supplies that you may need, and limit your interactions in stores, markets, and on the streets. And if a member of your household does get infected, you’ll need to quarantine them immediately.
This means that you’ll need to prepare a room where they can stay isolated from all the healthy family members, and have almost no interactions with other people. Back during the era of the Black Death, a quarantine lasted for at least 40 days. So there you have it. Following these steps should give you a good chance of getting through the Black Death alive.
- “Social Distancing And Quarantine Were Used In Medieval Times To Fight The Black Death”. 2021. HISTORY.
- “CDC Plague | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Plague”. 2021. emergency.cdc.gov.
- “What Was The Black Death? “. Winston Black, 2021. livescience.com.
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- “Plague”. 2017. who.int.
- “Climate-driven introduction of the Black Death and successive plague reintroductions into Europe”. pnas.org.