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In the early 1330s an outbreak of deadly bubonic plague occurred in China Plague mainly affects rodents but fleas can transmit the disease to people Once people are infected they infect others very rapidly Plague causes fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes which is how it gets its name The disease also causes spots on the skin that are red at first and then turn black Since China was one of the busiest of the worlds trading nations it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of plague in China spread to western Asia and Europe In October of 1347 several Italian merchant ships returned from a trip to the Black Sea one of the key links in trade with China When the ships docked in Sicily many of those on board were already dying of plague Within days the disease spread to the city and the surrounding countryside An eyewitness tells what happened Realizing what a deadly disaster had come to them the people quickly drove the Italians from their city But the disease remained and soon death was everywhere Fathers abandoned their sick sons Lawyers refused to come and make out wills for the dying Friars and nuns were left to care for the sick and monasteries and convents were soon deserted as they were stricken too Bodies were left in empty houses and there was no one to give them a Christian burialThe disease struck and killed people with terrible speed The Italian writer Boccaccio said its victims often ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradiseBy the following August the plague had spread as far north as England where people called it The Black Death because of the black spots it produced on the skin A terrible killer was loose across Europe and Medieval medicine had nothing to combat it In winter the disease seemed to disappear but only because
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