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Defining Feature 3: Buboes As A Normal Clinical Feature In Epidemics

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Chapter Summary

One of the central arguments of the pioneers of modern plague medicine and epidemiology for the identity of historical and modern plague was the descriptions of buboes and their accompanying clinical features which they met in historical sources. In the view of Scott and Duncan the ordinary clinical occurrence of buboes does not prove that a disease is bubonic plague but proves that buboes are a characteristic and defining feature of haemorrhagic plague. Cohn's approach to the problem that epidemic occurrence of buboes represents to his alternative theory is very different from Scott's and Duncan's: he primarily seeks support in the writings of contemporary chroniclers and physicians. Although chroniclers' and physicians' various writings seemingly constitute the central evidence for Cohn's argument on buboes and some other clinical manifestations, he places great emphasis on the evidentiary value of Boccaccio's account of the Black Death.

Keywords: Boccaccio; buboes; bubonic plague; Cohn; Duncan; epidemiology; Scott



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