In a terrifying announcement, scientists say the Bubonic Plague could return at any time without warning. The infamous pandemic causing infection has taken hundreds of millions of lives through its various influxes in human history, and recent research suggests that a mutated form of the virus could come back with a vengeance.
Scientists have discovered strains of Yersinia pestis in the dental remains of German victims of the Justinian Plague. The Yersinia pestis bacteria is the same rodent-born bug that caused the Black Death, the Bubonic Plague, and the Third Pandemic, and researchers are now suggesting that it is entirely possible for a mutation of the bacteria could cause another such pandemic.
This bacteria is usually spread by rats and other rodents. However, it becomes an issue when fleas on the rodents carry their hosts virus to a new host: humans. Scientists warn that if the bacteria were to evolve in such a way as to become airborn, it could kill individuals within 24 hours of being infected.
Although modern medicine would likely be able to treat any prospective pandemics, there is no guarantee that an evolution of the virus would be easy to stop or cure at all. If history is any indication of the future, any new strain of the virus would have the potential to be entirely devastating.
Research suggests that the Yersinia pestis bacteria has been at the core of several different pandemics, and that it may very well be lying in wait to strike. Some believe that the return of the virus may have already started. For instance, last month the Bubonic Plague was responsible for the deaths of around 20 villagers in Madagascar, sparking fears that it could return on a larger scale.
Although it seems very dark and bleak, researchers suggest that it is too early to be making funeral arrangements. As noted earlier, modern medical tactics and the understanding of how bacteria grow, live, and spread is something that humans before have never possessed. If another outbreak were to happen, humanity now possesses the ability to defend against it.
Also, researchers point to the fact that any outbreak would not be quite as sudden as previous ones have been. Signs such as large rodent die outs should be monitored as they can be indicative of rodent-born virus outbreaks. Furthermore, as noted by the publicity that the small flare up of the virus in Madagascar brought, the modern world is hyper-connected. If the plague were to return in a serious way, the response from humanity would be intensely organized and superbly efficient.
Nonetheless, the idea that the Bubonic Plague could return is jarring to say the least. There is uncertainty over how ready society would be for another bout with the deadly virus, and there is no certainty about what this perspective virus might look like when it starts infecting people. Perhaps a bit of bright news, some scientists believe that the virus died out because humanity developed an immunity or resistance to the Yersinia pestis bacteria. If this is to be true, then regardless of the form the virus takes, we will almost certainly be safe… for the most part.
By Brett Byers-Lane