Medieval plague bacteria strain probably extinct
This flea, X. cheopis, is responsible for transmitting the bacteria strain that causes plague.
August 30th, 2011
05:34 PM ET

Medieval plague bacteria strain probably extinct

Modern  outbreaks – swine flu, bird flu, SARS – have been scary and deadly, but they don't hold a candle to a plague called the Black Death. The disease killed an estimated one-third of Europe's population, perhaps 100 million people.

It's been a while, but scientists are now figuring out what caused the Black Death - at least, the one that swept through Europe from 1347 to 1351. They found evidence of the bacterium Yersinia pestis in the teeth of some of the medieval victims of the plague. Results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers screened more than 100 skeletal remains dating from 1348 to 1350 in the East Smithfield mass burial site, located in London, a place where plague victims were known to be buried.

They found a variation of Yersinia pestis that may no longer exist, as it has never been previously reported, study authors said. That suggests that this did not result from contamination from modern bacteria.

There had been some debate about whether there was some other explanation for the medieval plague, such as a different pathogen or bacterium.

The medieval plague is considered the second of three - the first was the Plague of Justinian in 541 A.D., and the third was noted in the 20th century; that disease represents about 2,000 cases per year, worldwide, on average.

A different form of Yersinia pestis is considered the cause of the plague that still exists today. As in the days of knights and castles, modern outbreaks of plague are associated with infected rats and rat fleas, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

In the United States, plague cases in humans mostly occur in parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, California, Oregon and Nevada. Internationally, it can be found in Africa, Asia and South America. The plague can still be deadly without proper care, but antibiotics can fight it off.

Given that the World Health Organization has said that plague is a "reemerging infectious disease," further study of the spread of the older version may be worthwhile.

soundoff (385 Responses)
  1. JbbnEncox

    cialis long time use diferencia entre el viagra y el cialis maximum cialis dosage

    February 16, 2021 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. JbnvCrulk

    santander visa debit card cash advance fee mississippi laws on payday loans speedy cash loans llc

    February 16, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kbbfseelt

    viagra super force side effects http://kloviagrli.com/ viagra in toronto

    February 17, 2021 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. FbsgZisse

    generic cialis 20 mg x 30 http://llecialisjaw.com/ cialis canada pharmacy

    February 17, 2021 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. vreyrolinomit

    Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. However just imagine if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with pics and video clips, this site could definitely be one of the greatest in its field. Terrific blog!


    February 26, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. what is viagra

    https://genericviagragog.com viagra cost

    February 27, 2021 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ClarkTauts

    hmi7v 612rl v1yq

    February 28, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ClarkTauts

    z81kr ihkf9 9vjc

    February 28, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. KndnMile

    ingredient in viagra amazon viagra viagra history

    March 1, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. NbmoZisse

    discount cialis online http://buycialisxz.com/ cialis soft

    March 2, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Leave a Reply to Harvey


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.