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Science & Technology

Cause of the Black Death plague identified

By T.K. Randall
October 19, 2010 · Comment icon 13 comments

Image Credit: Nicolas Poussin
Scientists have determined the bacteria responsible for the "Black Death" during the middle ages.
Bacteria Yersinia pestis is believed to have been the cause of the epidemic, up until now the exact cause had been something of a controversial topic with several suggested theories being dismissed.
The latest tests conducted by anthropologists at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have proven that the bacteria Yersinia pestis was indeed the causative agent behind the "Black Death" that raged across Europe in the Middle Ages.

Source: | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by pea 14 years ago
The plague has been active, and still is in areas of the USA. I don't see how this is news. It's like saying, "we found what causes diabetes!" This isn't news.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Malruhn 14 years ago
I was thinking much the same until I read the article. They identified that there were two totally new strains of the bug, and they traced its route. I was going to write something snotty, but that info made it worthwhile as news.
Comment icon #6 Posted by mythical_wizard 14 years ago sad there's no cure by then...... antibiotics were not yet introduced.
Comment icon #7 Posted by cluey 14 years ago
I thought it was mainly transmited via rodents......but fleas could also transmit it
Comment icon #8 Posted by questionmark 14 years ago
I thought it was mainly transmited via rodents......but fleas could also transmit it well, works this way, the flea sucks blood from the rodent, that dies from the plague. The flea is hungry and sucks on somebody else transmitting the plague. That can be any mammal, including humans.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Copasetic 14 years ago
I thought it was mainly transmited via rodents......but fleas could also transmit it It was transmitted from the bites of fleas, carried by rodents. Rats are susceptible to plague, but less so than humans. We call this type of infection a zoonotic disease. As the rats living in close contact with humans begins to die, their parasites (fleas) spread to new hosts (humans). _______________________________________________ This is news because the epidemiological spread of the plagues isn't consistent with a pandemic bacterial pathogen. Its more consistent with viral hemorrhagic fevers. Which is wh... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Gatofeo 14 years ago
Yersinia pestis is also found among rodents in western America, generally among ground squirrels and ferrets.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Science Geek 14 years ago
Very nice story Still Water.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Wyrdlight 14 years ago
Well duh.... Of course it was Yersina Pestis, there was no way it could have been anything else. Some of the theories thrown around were silly. Ebola? i mean come on. I cant belive people insist of spending money to "confrim" what its common knowledge.
Comment icon #13 Posted by KALASH69 14 years ago
This is pretty interesting, a good read. Thanks for posting!

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