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article imageNot fleas but humans spread ‘Back Death’ in Medieval London

By Ernest Dempsey     Mar 31, 2014 in Science
London - New archaeological and forensic evidence suggests that the great plague epidemic of 14th-Century London was airborne and spread via coughing and sneezing of people, not by flea bites.
The new study, whose results were summarized in a story published in The Guardian on Saturday, runs against the long-accepted and taught belief that fleas were the carriers of plague infection in the catastrophic plague epidemic of the mid-14th Century in London, pooularly known as “Black Death”. Coming from the research by archaeologists and forensic scientists, evidence now suggests that Black Death was a pneumonic plague, and not bubonic plague as has been regarded for decades.
The new evidence includes remains of people excavated at Charterhouse Square, north of London city, and wills registered in London at the time of the plague disaster. By extracting DNA of Yersinia pestis – the plague-causing bacterium – from human teeth found at Charterhouse Square, and comparing the strain with that responsible for the recent plague in Madagascar, scientists were able to tell that the virulence of the two disasters was of equal magnitude.
As reported on DNA, the highly infectious nature of Black Death pointed to the fact that the epidemic must have been airborne to have spread so quickly, and the most likely agent for carrying such an infection was human contact not fleas living on rats, though the latter has long been held responsible for spreading the infection in London area at that time.
Liberty Voice notes that fleas may have had a role in the outbreak, the recent research by osteologist Don Walker suggests that humans were the main reason for the rapid spread of the infection. It is estimated that around 75 million people died because of Black Death. The story also informs about a documentary titled Secret History: The Return of the Black Death, on Channel 4, in which Dr. Tim Brooks will explain the nature of Black Death.
More about medieval lo, Black death, London plague, 14th century plague
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