A Plague on You

So, things are grinding to a near-halt in Happy Meadows and the area at large. I hope everyone gets through this crisis in one piece. We may have a once in a hundred years pandemic on our hands. The influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 killed almost 700,000 people in the US and over 20,000,000 worldwide. It killed more Americans than any war, other than the Civil War. And  most of the Civil War deaths were from infectious disease rather than combat. It is thought that 25% of the US population contracted the flu between 1918 and 1919.. One difference between the 2 epidemics is that young adults were highly vulnerable to severe illness in the flu pandemic, which seems not to be the case with the coronavirus. The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 was called the Spanish flu, even though there was nothing particularly Spanish about it. The disease ran wild in war-torn Europe, but because of press censorship, most countries withheld information. However, Spain was neutral, so much of the reporting about the flu came from Spain. By the way, the word “influenza” is Italian for “influence.”

Mike’s family was hit hard by the flu pandemic. His grandfather’s brother lost 2 daughters, both young married women, on the same day. There is a curious follow-up to this story. One of the women’s husbands remarried and had a family. Subsequently, his son married and had his own family. One of the sons from that generation and Mike both wound up in Atlanta and joined the same synagogue. They figured out their connection and have been close for many years.

A friend of Mike’s recently informed him that the pandemic of 1918-19 was caused by the bubonic plague, and that it , like the current pandemic, originated in China. This is a nice fellow who was simply misinformed, possibly by watching Fox news. Mike didn’t correct him because there were several other people listening, and he didn’t want to create discomfort. The bubonic plague is caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis. It is spread to humans by the bite of the rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopsis. It can also be spread by close contact with infected people or corpses of people who died from the plague. There have been 3 pandemics of the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death because of the tendency of affected people to develop gangrene of the extremities, skin, lips and the tip of the nose prior to death. The first pandemic was known as the Plague of Justinian in 542 CE. An estimated 25 to 50 million people died around the Mediterranean Sea and eastward into Asia Minor. In 1347 the deadliest of the 3 pandemics of bubonic plague hit Europe, killing one-third of the population. The third plague happened in the latter part of the 19th Century. It originated in China or eastern Asia, and spread to port cities around the world including San Francisco between 1900 and 1909. Like other diseases that episodically run rampant, plague continues to maintain a low level of activity. In the USA, it occurs in rodents in the rural Southwest, leading to occasional human cases. Cases occur as well in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.

Some people are focused on the origins of these pandemics, not so much out of scientific curiosity, but rather just to find someone to blame. These are typically xenophobes who need a scapegoat for troubles that they don’t understand. The Jews caught a lot of grief in the 1300’s because of their supposed role in the cause of the plague.

So, Mike is awaiting a call from Dr. K. to find out the results of his tests, and the plan moving forward. He was scheduled to go to the clinic today but asked to be able to communicate by phone, which Emory agreed to. Once we get more information you will be the first to know. Now is a time that we need prayer more than ever. We cats will do our part, but we all need to generate that good energy, two-leggeds and four-leggeds alike. You will hear from me again soon. Until then, be well, be safe, and be happy. So long from Happy Meadows!

Author: Black Magic

Black Magic is a handsome, charming, and self-absorbed cat who lives with Mike and Judy Gordon in Marietta, Georgia. He is about 7 years old, and he will remind you at every opportunity that his grandfather was Black Jack, that famous cat who wrote his own autobiography. Black Magic has a great many opinions, and despite his natural feline arrogance, he seems to be genuinely spiritual. But the reader can decide for him/herself.

2 thoughts on “A Plague on You”

  1. Praying for good test results from Dr. K.
    Everything in bloom here in western NC. Suspect it is the same in Happy Meadows.


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