Pieter Bruegel's "The Triumph of Death"
Hell on Earth, the nightmare depicted by Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel in his mid-16th-century "The Triumph of Death" reflects the social upheaval and terror that followed the plague that devastated medieval Europe. Thought by most to be a scourge of the past, the bacteria of the plague still appears from time to time and has even been researched as a biological weapon by some countries.
Plague was one of history’s deadliest diseases—then we found a cure
Known as the Black Death, the much feared disease spread quickly for centuries, killing millions. The bacterial infection still occurs but can be treated with antibiotics.
Plague is one of the deadliest diseases in human history, second only to smallpox. A bacterial infection found mainly in rodents and associated fleas, plague readily leaps to humans in close contact. Plague outbreaks are the most notorious epidemics in history, inciting fears of plague’s use as a biological weapon.
Today, plague cases still pop up sporadically around the world—including in the United States or China, where a suspected case was recently reported in the Inner Mongolia region. But the disease is no longer as deadly as it can be treated with antibiotics when available.
Here’s what you need to know about the plague, including how it spreads, the difference between bubonic and pneumonic plague, the most infamous