Plague: From the 14th to the 21st century and still going strong

Plague tomb in Eyam
Plague tomb in Eyam by martsky

The Black Death, also known as the Plague, was a devastating pandemic that struck Europe in the 14th century, and killed between a third and two thirds of Europe’s population. Almost simultaneous epidemics occurred in Asia and the Middle East during the same period, so the well recorded waves of infection in Europe were really part of a worldwide pandemic which killed at least 75 million people. The same disease is thought to have returned to Europe every generation with varying degrees of severity until the 1700s. The disease was completely eradicated in Europe only at the beginning of the 19th century, but survives in other parts of the world, notably in Africa, Asia and the Americas — including the United States.
But Yersinia pestis, the bacterium which causes plague, has not gone away, and climate change could mean that worse is to come. Find out more in this week’s MicrobiologyBytes podcast:

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