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The 1994 Surat Plague Outbreak – A Short History

Written by Naman Anil Kumar, a grade 7 student

The world has seen many pandemic diseases like AIDS, Swine flu, Ebola, Zika virus, Cholera, Malaria, Dengue and now the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). There was another one such outbreak that became a pandemic – the Plague.

By I Kid You Not , in Did You Know Explained Facts to Know History , at December 29, 2020 Tags: , , , ,

Written by Naman Anil Kumar, a grade 7 student

The world has seen many pandemic diseases like AIDS, Swine flu, Ebola, Zika virus, Cholera, Malaria, Dengue and now the COVID-19 (Coronavirus). There was another one such outbreak that became a pandemic – the Plague.

What is a plague?

Plague is a pandemic disease which is caused by Yersinia Pestis bacteria, usually found in rodents and small mammals. It can be transmitted to humans. Plague can be a very dangerous disease and certain cases it can be fatal.

What are the symptoms of plague?

The symptoms of plague are:

  • Sudden fever
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Muscle ache
  • Swelling

What happens if plague affects us?

  • Swollen skin
  • Blood gets hot
  • Lung infection

How can we prevent the infection?

  1. Good sanitization and general cleanliness
  2. Good drainage and sewage system
  3. Keeping control on rats

What happened in the Surat Plague outbreak?

Surat is the largest seaport in Gujarat. It is in the southern part of Gujarat state. The city Surat is in the center of Tapi River. It is now one of the cleanest cities in India. The city is famous for its diamonds and textiles. But what is one of the cleanest cities in India now, was one of the dirtiest before. There was no proper drainage system and no manholes in the whole city. Also, there was no proper sewage system. The municipal office didn’t take care of these things. All of these led to a flood of drain water which brought many plastic bottles, bags, cans and also many rats out of the sewage pipes in the open.

It included the breed of rat called Bandicota Bengalenisis, which was the main cause of pneumonic Plague. Initially, no one could figure out the cause of the illness or that it is Plague. Further investigations and rising number of cases revealed that it was due to rats.

The next few days were the days of the Surat migration. The highest migration in India, after the India Pakistan partition in 1947 is said to have happened after the Plague. Around 60 percent of people fled from Surat in just 2 days. Everyone saw how after the Covid outbreak people hoarded sanitizers and masks, at that time people hoarded antibiotics which could be used to treat the infection.

The municipal corporation of Surat learnt a lesson after the 1994 plague outbreak. They completely changed the face of Surat. A lot of rules and regulations were introduced to keep the city clean. People, who were carelessly throwing garbage on to the road, became very conscious. Hawkers, shop owners and everyone in general stopped throwing leftovers and wet waste on to the road.

In 1996, Surat was declared as one of the cleanest cities in India.

This goes to show, if you don’t learn a lessonsfrom your mistakes, you will have to face a tough test that will make you learn a lesson.

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