This would be well known as the Black Death or the Bubonic Plague.
Kellehear, Allan. "Culture and the Near-Death Experience: Comments on Keith Augustine's 'Psychophysiological and Cultural Correlates Undermining a Survivalist Interpretation of Near-Death Experiences'." . Vol. 26, No. 2 (Winter 2007): 147-153.
The Black Death is now known to be spread by a flea.
Presumably cross-cultural consistency could be explained in terms of either similar neurological events or different encounters with the same afterlife reality. But cross-cultural NDE studies demonstrate that many near-death researchers have simply that the consistency between Western accounts is merely a specific instance of a cross-cultural consistency. For instance, Paul Badham asserts that "What is seen [in NDEs] appears to be cross-cultural, but how it is named depends on the religious or non-religious background of the believer" (Badham 14). Though no prototypical Western NDEs are evident among his Western and non-Western medieval afterlife narratives, James McClenon argues that what is at "issue between 'believers' and 'skeptics' is not whether common elements exist cross-culturally," but whether that alleged fact "supports belief in life after death.... [or whether] commonalities within NDEs are produced by physiological factors associated with death trauma" (McClenon, "Folklore" 322). But existing cross-cultural studies suggest that any cross-cultural core consists of a very small number of elements. Thus sociologist Allan Kellehear suggests a very general and rather meager 'core NDE' after his survey of non-Western NDE accounts:
But the most straightforward interpretation of apparent diversity is actual diversity: that Westerners actually see tunnels in their experiences, while Melanesians see underground caverns. But since acknowledging actual diversity tends to undermine arguments for survival based on NDE commonalities, it is not surprising that researchers sympathetic to survival after death tend to interpret markedly different NDE reports in terms of the 'same experience, different descriptions' principle.
Within a year the Black Death spread rapidly across the continent....
Blackmore makes a similar point concerning tunnel experiences: "The tunnels described [in prototypical Western NDEs] are all different in precise form.... Presumably if there is a 'real' tunnel then it should have one form and all the rest must be seen as inaccurate perceptions of that real tunnel" (Blackmore, "Dying" 77). Of course, it may be that there are different passageways for different NDErs, with some taking tunnels and other traversing a dark void; but even granting this, if NDErs were accessing shared realities rather than purely subjective imagery, we would expect more uniformity across accounts than a particular kind of tunnel tailored for each individual NDEr, with some NDErs foregoing traversing any sort of passageway whatsoever.
In reality it is a rhyme about the Black Death.
For instance, if NDEs are transitions to another world initiated by something leaving the body, then NDEs ought to begin with OBEs. But a substantial portion of prototypical Western NDEs do not include OBEs at all, and non-Western near-death OBE accounts are sporadic. Are NDErs who do not report OBEs simply amnesic about leaving the body, even though NDErs commonly report recalling their NDEs more sharply than any other events in their lives? Why do out-of-body NDEs in the West typically transition quickly from seeing the physical body and its immediate surroundings to another NDE element, while NDErs from Guam evidently "project" thousands of miles away to see relatives living in America? These sorts of questions are awkward for those taking a survivalist interpretation of NDEs.
"The Red Death had long devastated the country .
His NDE seemed to reveal that he was actually more drawn to the Thai ways of creating merit than to those of his own family and subculture.... [This] suggests that it is not culture alone that determines NDE phenomenology. Rather, NDEs may be determined more by one's expectations concerning what death will be like, even when those expectations are held subconsciously or are influenced by more than one culture (169).
When the Black Death hit it was a catastrophe.
In sum, despite several recurrent and well-defined commonalities across different NDEs, very few and only broadly defined commonalities have been found cross-culturally. This is problematic for a survivalist interpretation of NDEs because a substantial cross-cultural core would be expected if different NDErs were literally , by the same means (leaving their bodies) and through the same route (passage through a tunnel or darkness toward a light), to transcendental destinations. Instead, we find a variety of culture-specific NDE templates with only well-defined commonalities. This severely undercuts the survivalist argument that NDE commonalities result from different NDErs undergoing the same journey; and in virtue of their common humanity, NDErs would not be expected to take different journeys to different places after death merely because of where and when they lived while on Earth.