The Black Death, probably one of the most well known catastrophes, human civilization has suffered is not as much a thing of the past as one would imagine. Those gory medieval paintings and tapestries which portrayed the era of “Bring out your Dead”, show a disease which is still not entirely done with humanity. December last year saw a bout of fresh cases of the buobonic plague in the island nation of Madagascar. With a count of 60 cases in the last year one might think that the problem is in no way comparable in scale and proportion to what it was centuries ago. But the problem in Madagascar till now has been concentrated in remote isolated areas. What would happen in a crowded, over populated unsanitary city is anyone’s nightmare.

These epidemics, illnesses of cataclysmic possibilities are not all avoidable, many we don’t even have a cure for. But this particular one was believed to be a product of living conditions and ignorance which was no longer possible in this day and age, and still there are fractions of the population which may be susceptible.  As the Ebola virus grips the imagination of the world it does so with a lack of urgency and a receives saddening response. I myself wasn’t aware of the presence of this bacterial disease, the plague, in the world today. Rats are abundant all over the world and you don’t associate them with death carrying fleas as you would perhaps centuries ago. This video by Vice  brought the happenings of Madagascar to my attention. Sure YouTube based productions may rely on the empathy of distant solitary viewers who shall not even do anything about the cause. I can say with some confidence that I mostly won’t. Even the presentation of such morbid and depressing content might be fueled by a well known need of the dwellers of the 1st and 2nd world to feel connected to the world’s problems and in turn feel great in having done so. Whatever the reasons, the value of this increased awareness of the plight of the world and the ineffectiveness of the powers that be in handling it, can’t be harmful only helpful.

Are the problems of a nation restricted by a nation’s borders even when their cause won’t be?

Further Reading

Vice : The Return of the Black Death
Health Map : Madagascar’s Plague Outbreak

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