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Were gerbils responsible for the plague ?

February 24, 2015 | Comment icon 23 comments



Did gerbils carry the plague from Asia to Europe ? Image Credit: PD - Wiki
Scientists believe that rats may not have been responsible for the Black Death in Europe after all.
One of the deadliest pandemics in history, the Black Death resulted in the deaths of up to 200 million people in Europe at its peak in the 14th century, a figure equivalent to up to 60% of the population.

While the disease was originally believed to have been brought to Europe by black rats, the results of a new study suggest that it might have actually been carried by gerbils from Central Asia where epidemics were being triggered by periods of warmer weather.
If this theory turns out to be correct then it means that gerbils stowing away on cargo ships may have carried the plague in to Europe repeatedly over the course of several hundred years.

"We show that wherever there were good conditions for gerbils and fleas in central Asia, some years later the bacteria shows up in harbour cities in Europe and then spreads across the continent," said Prof Nils Christian Stenseth from the University of Oslo.

"Such conditions are good for gerbils. It means a high gerbil population across huge areas and that is good for the plague."

Source: Telegraph | Comments (23)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by ealdwita 7 years ago
Typical mumbo jumbo from So called Scientists. The problem with this theory is that there isn't a shred of evidence. As far as I know at the time people said it was rats. You'll find no reference to rats, mice or any other kind of earthly cause for the plague in contemporary writings. Everything from the "malignant alignment of planets" to "Bad air" and the will of God was blamed for the outbreaks. It wasn't until the 19th.Cent that the 'modern' explanation was founded by teams of scientists who visited Hong Kong in 1894.
Comment icon #15 Posted by questionmark 7 years ago
Whatever transmitted it must be something pretty immune to the bacterium itself... so rats might be a stepping stone but have been let off the hook as the "cause" for quite a while by science now because they also get infected and die very quickly. The question now is: How immune are Gerbils?
Comment icon #16 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
Typical mumbo jumbo from So called Scientists. The problem with this theory is that there isn't a shred of evidence. As far as I know at the time people said it was rats. I think if I didn't know a gerbil was a gerbil, I'd call it a rat.
Comment icon #17 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
You'll find no reference to rats, mice or any other kind of earthly cause for the plague in contemporary writings. Everything from the "malignant alignment of planets" to "Bad air" and the will of God was blamed for the outbreaks. It wasn't until the 19th.Cent that the 'modern' explanation was founded by teams of scientists who visited Hong Kong in 1894. I thought they blamed cats for a while? http://redicecreations.com/article.php?id=11435
Comment icon #18 Posted by QuiteContrary 7 years ago
I knew there was a reason I liked hamsters better.
Comment icon #19 Posted by QuiteContrary 7 years ago
I thought they blamed cats for a while? http://redicecreatio...le.php?id=11435 Im pretty sure cats can spread it. We had woman in WV(I think) catch it from her cat, not too long ago, through saliva/coughing (I think). From infected rodent(s) it had eaten?
Comment icon #20 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
Im pretty sure cats can spread it. We had woman in WV(I think) catch it from her cat, not too long ago, through saliva/coughing (I think). From infected rodent(s) it had eaten? Actually, from what I remember the Plague is carried not by the rats, gerbils, or cats... but by the fleas that are on them. http://en.wikipedia....iki/Black_Death The dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to Yersinia pestis, also responsible for an epidemic that began in southern China in 1865, eventually spreading to India. The investigation of the pathogen that c... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by ChaosRose 7 years ago
I so read weregerbils (under latest news) and imagined that people actually claim to shift into gerbils...AND they also claim responsibility for the plague.
Comment icon #22 Posted by spacelizard667 7 years ago
As was commonly known in Europe, even the fleas on the rats and any mosquitos that had bitten infected rats could carry the deadly black plague; and that Europe had a serious rat problem, and a lack for better sanitation at that time. An asumption that gerbils could have played any serious part is absurd, these little pets [some sort of a 'desert rat'] weren't even popular as pets until around about the 1980s
Comment icon #23 Posted by moon tide 7 years ago
I don't care who caused it. I accept the rat and the gerbil as my fellow mammals. It was fate who dealt them a poor hand.


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