Bamboo flea trap, China, 1751-1850
The inner tube of this bamboo trap was coated with a sticky substance such as birdlime to catch fleas. It can be removed to dispose of the dead fleas. Other Chinese traps were made from hollow pieces of bamboo or ivory and heated to attract fleas. They could be placed in beds to catch these insects, which bite and cause intense itching. Fleas are known to be carriers of diseases such as plague.
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Glossary: insect trap
An acute contagious fever with high levels of mortality. Both the 'Black Death' that swept Europe in the 1340s and the Great Plague of London in 1665 are believed to have been bubonic plague.