But it's important to note that most plague is spread from animal to human, not person to person - Julia Belluz


image by: Brad Wolfe

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Avoiding the Black Plague Today

Even in areas of the world that still experience outbreaks, mortality rates from plague are estimated to be eight to 10 percent. The disease that caused the most lethal epidemics recorded in history and killed 60 percent of the people in medieval London and Florence is no longer on the most feared-killers list.

"O happy posterity, who will not experience such abysmal woe and will look upon our testimony as a fable," wrote Renaissance poet Petrarch, who lost his beloved and muse, Laura, to the "Black Death." Petrarch, a native of the Republic of Florence, witnessed a terror we can only find in end-of-the-world Hollywood blockbusters today:

The lucky few who had escaped the…

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 Avoiding the Black Plague Today

Though it calls to mind medieval massacre, the deadly infectious disease known simply as plague is still around. New research on how the disease spreads helps us better understand the pandemic that killed up to 100 million people, and how to continue to keep it in check.

Black Death

The Black Death was 'a squalid disease that killed within a week' and a national trauma that utterly transformed Britain. Dr Mike Ibeji follows its deadly path.


A small group of survivors seek shelter from an infection that has spread like a plague among the human race. Evie (Tegan Crowley) and her fellow survivors find refuge and wait for her husband John’s (Scott Marcus) return. After the infected attack, Evie refuses to abandon her husband against the wishes of the group. The survivors revolt leaving Evie to an uncertain fate. With the unexpected arrival of Charlie (Steven Kennedy) what appears to be an opportunity at a new beginning quickly turns into a horror as menacing as the infected that pursue them.

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe

The coming of the Black Death, when in just two years perhaps one third to one half of Europe's population was destroyed, marks a watershed in Medieval and Renaissance European History.

The Black Death: Bubonic Plague

In the early 1330s an outbreak of deadly bubonic plague occurred in China. The bubonic plague mainly affects rodents, but fleas can transmit the disease to people. Once people are infected, they infect others very rapidly. Plague causes fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes, which is how it gets its name.


Plague is a disease that affects humans and other mammals. It is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. Plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague.


In primary pneumonic plague, as with bubonic plague, organisms often enter the bloodstream and cause multiorgan involvement, DIC, and shock. In the absence of early antibiotic therapy (ie, within the first 24 hours), death occurs from overwhelming sepsis (usually within several days after illness onset). Without therapy, mortality approaches 100%.


Plague is a serious bacterial infection that's transmitted by fleas. Known as the Black Death during medieval times, today plague occurs in fewer than 5,000 people a year worldwide. It can be deadly if not treated promptly with antibiotics. The organism that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, lives in small rodents on every continent except Australia. The organism is transmitted to humans who are bitten by fleas that have fed on infected rodents or by humans handling infected animals. The most common form of plague results in swollen and tender lymph nodes — called buboes — in the groin, armpits or neck. The rarest and deadliest form of plague affects the lungs, and it can be spread from person to person.


Approximately 10 to 20 people in the United States develop plague each year from flea or rodent bites—primarily from infected prairie dogs—in rural areas of the southwestern United States. About 1 in 7 of those infected die from the disease. There has not been a case of person-to-person infection in the United States since 1924. Worldwide, there have been small plague outbreaks in Asia, Africa, and South America.


Plague is an infection caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacteria are found mainly in rats and in the fleas that feed on them. People and other animals can get plague from rat or flea bites. In the past, plague destroyed entire civilizations. Today plague is uncommon, due to better living conditions and antibiotics.


Human infection most commonly results from being bitten by a rat flea called Xenopsylla cheopis. These fleas feed off the infected rodents and swallow the bacteria which then multiply in the fleas stomach. This makes the flea hungry and they then bite a human and vomit the bacteria into the bite. The flea dies of subsequent starvation as the bacteria in the stomach inhibits blood flow to the gut making them vomit when they eat.


Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia Pestis, a zoonotic bacteria, usually found in small animals and their fleas. It is transmitted between animals and humans by the bite of infected fleas, direct contact, inhalation and rarely, ingestion of infective materials. Plague can be a very severe disease in people, with a case-fatality ratio of 30%-60% if left untreated. There are 3 forms of plague infection, depending on the route of infection: bubonic, septicaemic and pneumonic.

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