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Rats No Longer Thought To Be Responsible For Bubonic Plague

Gerbil2

(PCM) New research has now been uncovered that reveals that the fleas on black rats that were initially thought to have caused the bubonic plague many not necessarily be at fault. Instead, researchers have now uncovered information that leads them to believe that it may have been gerbils, not rats that are behind the wide-spread outbreak of the deadly disease.

The bubonic plague, or Black Death, wiped out about 100 million people in Europe during its’ outbreaks that occurred in the mid-14th century and then again in the 1800’s. The new research study posted in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows climate data that dates back to the 14th century that contradicts the conditions that would be cause of the plague outbreaks to have been caused by disease-carrying fleas on the rat population.

Using 15 tree ring records the researchers were able to determine that the plagues occurred in Europe after Asia experienced a particularly wet spring and a warm summer. These conditions are not good for the rat population, however they are excellent for Asia’s gerbil population. It is thought that the gerbils, rather than the rats, along with the disease-ridden fleas traveled along the Silk Road and arrived in Europe several years later causing the horrific bubonic plague outbreaks.

The researchers also claim that this is the reason why the disease would only outbreak every so often instead of staying with the rats that were already living in Europe the entire time.

Definitely food for thought and certainly changes the viewpoint about the cause of the Black Death quite a bit.

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