In 3-5 pgs double-spaced, 12 pts font, 1 inch margins, write an essay that compares the ways that pandemics such as smallpox, plague, yellow fever, influenza and/or zika unite people on a global scale and how it divides them. What is important about shared experiences of disease? What can we learn about the way that pandemics divide people? Be sure to discuss at least two of the different diseases discussed in class. You must provide citations for all material that was produced outside of our in-class meetings. This means that you must properly cite the readings or videos using Chicago Manual of Style citation guides. You do not need to cite my lectures or material raised in a discussion. Do not use any material that was not assigned for this unit on the syllabus. The point of this assignment is to demonstrate that you can synthesize a specific set of material into a unique argument.
Pandemics essay sample
A pandemic is the uncontrolled spread of a highly contagious illness that affects a huge number of people over a large territory. It does not differentiate the poor from the rich and takes everybody regardless of their status, race and other seemingly important to people classifications. Millions of people died because of plague, influenza or yellow fever. Despite the fact that in most cases doctors were helpless, some people managed to survive and shared their experience with younger generations. The stories the survived told were dreadful and frightening, and they showed how pandemics both united and divided people in some way.
The history of the humankind has many examples of the pandemics that happened all over the world. Millions of deaths were caused by different pandemics, such as smallpox, plague, influenza, etc. Surely, one should take into consideration the time when all these horrible events happened. One of the oldest and the most destroying pandemics was the bubonic plague or the Black Death; such a name was given to the disease due to black buboes covering the body of the sick. This disease was characterized by swollen lymph nodes on armpits, neck or groin, and also muscle aches, fever and so on. Remarkably, the plague began in China in the 1300s (“The Black Death: Bubonic Plague” 2011). In that period, there was active trading, so not surprisingly, the deadly illness transmitted by rodents began to spread very rapidly. There are not many recollections from those times. However, some eyewitnesses told that people began to die already on the boats returning from China to Italy. Many people left their houses to avoid infection, but it was impossible. Eventually, houses were abandoned; parents left their ill children; doctors did not want to go to sick people being afraid to be infected (“The Black Death: Bubonic Plague” 2011). Thus, it can be considered as a conscious division caused by the fear. The disease continued to spread, and soon covered Asia and Europe. It is a bright example of the illness that unites people, but not in the aspect of finding some treatment but in overall helplessness in the face of the Black Death. Surely, consequences of the disease overwhelm with the number of deaths it caused and the development level of medicine of that period that could not find the effective means to overcome the plague.
Almost the same way people were divided by another serious pandemic known as smallpox considered as one of the most horrible diseases in the history with millions of people that died from it. Fever, fatigue, headaches and red spots on a body were the symptoms that led people to the lethal outcome. According to historical facts, the northwest coast of the United States of America suffered the smallpox pandemic during the 1770s (Lange 2003). The historian Robert Boyd investigated the case of spreading smallpox among the Indians who had the settlements in those areas. Statistics indicated that approximately 30% of the population died from this disease (Lange 2003). It was transmitted to others by coughing or physical contact. Inasmuch as Indians did not have the developed medicine, the smallpox pandemic was extremely hard to fight for them, so many people had to leave their home. As Boyd pointed, there were a great number of abandoned houses with dead bodies or skeletons there (as cited in Lange 2003). Just as in the case with the Black Death, it was too hard to combat the disease. Nevertheless, later, when vaccination appeared, it helped to prevent a wide spread of smallpox. It is also an example of human helplessness in finding another way of overcoming the disease instead of escaping, as in the case of Indian tribes.
Another disease that took many lives was influenza or Spanish flu that became widespread during World War I in 1918. The fact of the disease devastating cities did not become known because the attention was focused on the war and its results and victims (“The Influenza Pandemic 1918” 2005). This severe disease spread through almost all countries of the world. Furthermore, in the years of the war, it was easy to transmit influenza and infect others. Many soldiers on the front could not fight because of harsh symptoms; besides, many of them brought the infection to their homes. Thus, many outbreaks of influenza started in different states of America (“The Influenza Pandemic 1918” 2005). Tit often happened that soldiers died not from the weapons, but from influenza. The disease overtook most cities. In that period, it a little poem appeared that the children cited when they skipped rope: “I had a little bird / Its name was Enza / I opened the window / And in-flu-enza” (Crawford as cited in “The Influenza Pandemic 1918” 2005). In regard to an army, the disease does not divide people but rather unites them because the infection spreads with a high speed, increasing the number of the ill. Again, the doctors were helpless and nothing could stop the pandemic.
One more outbreak happened in 1957. It was called Asian flu and it caused about two million deaths all over the world. In comparison with the previous flu pandemics, it was the mildest one. There were many people who had this disease and survived, but it could hardly be called as the illness that only divides people or unites. The important fact about shared experience of the disease was that everyone who had the illness and survived never had the flu afterwards. On the one hand, the overall state of people who were ill was awful; many of them did not remember the period when they were lying on their beds suffering the high temperature and vomiting (Bell 2015). The 1957 flu cannot be regarded as one of the fatal diseases that led to such a great number of deaths as the plague, but it still affected large territories. That period would be rather called as a “happy” pandemic because the medicine already allowed fighting with the illness. Active vaccination helped to a certain extent to prevent the spread of the disease; thus, one can consider that this illness united people in finding the cure.
While comparing abovementioned cases of pandemics in the way they influenced the humankind, one may come to the conclusion that it divides and unites people at the same time. In the cases of plague and smallpox, people just tried to escape from the diseases to save their lives. Furthermore, it is a rather common behavior of people scared to be infected to refuse to help the ill people; thus, one can notice the diseases in most cases divided people. In the cases of 1918 influenza and 1957 Asian flu, one can notice that there were not so many attempts to escape the illness as during the previous pandemics. Influenza seemed not to give a choice because in the period of war, it was impossible to hide; thus, the influenza pandemic united people in their helplessness. The 1957 pandemic was the lightest in comparison with the previous cases, and it can be considered as dividing due to having the experience and uniting in the further finding of vaccination.
In conclusion, the diseases that caused deaths of millions of people were uncontrolled and mostly did not distinguish people by nation, status, age, or sex. The common feature of all pandemic cases, especially in early years, was a huge number of deaths and lack of means to at least ease the symptoms. It was hard to survive in the conditions of underdeveloped medicine and without any means to avoid or combat the illness and stop numerous deaths. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to prevent some illnesses even in the modern world and impossible to stop spreading of them.
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