Black Plague Could Return Without Any Warning

Black Plague Could Return Without Any Warning

It is very possible that a modern strain of the Black Plague, which ended up killing half of the world’s entire population in the 14th Century, could return without any warning, state scientists. Even though current medicine would be able to help to fight such a horrible outbreak, the ease in which individuals are able to go around the world would end up making the outbreak so much worse.

It had been formerly believed by researchers that the bug which carried the plague, Yersinia pestis, which moved from rodents to human beings, had been gotten under control, even though there were over 60 people that died from plague in Madagascar back in 2012. However, an investigation done on the bug which were discovered on teeth of victims back in the sixth Century showed that various genetic versions had been able to cross over the species barricade at least two different times in history.

The plague which hit in the sixth Century was very different from the type that was behind the Black Death and also the Third Pandemic, which erupted in China in 1855, stated a paper that was printed up in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. The earlier strain, which was called the Justinian plague, quickly died out, possibly because it ended up killing so many it infected. If such a plague was able to explode in human population, cause such a colossal pandemic, and then die off, this shows it is possible it might happen again, explained David Wagner, who works at the Microbial Genetics and Genomics Center, which is located at Northern Arizona University.

The research done also alerted scientists to the chance that two even earlier epidemics, the Plague of Athens, which occurred in 430B.C. and the Antonine Plague of 180 A.D., could both have been caused by the Y, pestis, although verifying such a theory would be very difficult, declared Dr. Thomas Gilbert, who is a professor of paleogenomics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

Dr. Gilbert explained that what these occurrences of the plague show are that it came in on humans on various occasions and went on a devastating rampage. That alone shows that the plague’s appearance was not so hard to make and also was not some wild fluke. Humans are invading on rodents’ terrain, so it is just a matter of time before people receive more exposure from the creatures.

It is believed that around 200 rodent classes are reservoirs for the plague bug. But the plague is a disease that, if it happens, modern-day antibiotics should be able to halt it in its tracks. Yet, if the plague gets to a person’s lungs and then is able to become airborne, spread around by the infected person coughing, it would be much more difficult to treat. That is the kind of plague that can kill a person within only a day.

The disease is actually fairly common in rodents, and is passed around by rat fleas known as Xenopsylla cheopis. The bacteria produce a biofilm inside the gut of the infected fleas that stops them from being able to feed. So instead of sucking up any blood when they take a bite, they spew up the bacteria into the brand new host, where it begins to infect the lymph system, and starts to cause swelling.

Back in medieval times, they thought the Black Death was caused by dogs and cats, so the authorities proceeded to have many of the animals killed. All this did was boost the spreading of the plague by improving the chance of rat populations to increase.

In the 14th Century, the plague reduced the population of European so greatly that land prices dropped while wages went up. This ended up creating a chance for extreme social changes which occurred in following centuries. However, if a modern strain of the Black Plague were to happen, who knows what changes of any kind it would create for the world today.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

National Geographic News

Forbes News

The Tech Times

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