Tags: london | black | death | skeletons

London Black Death Skeletons Give Up New Clues About Plague

Image: London Black Death Skeletons Give Up New Clues About Plague

Monday, 31 Mar 2014 12:03 PM

By Nick Sanchez

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Archeologists have come upon a cache of 25 skeletons they say offer new clues about the true nature of medieval Europe's Black Death plague while digging subway tunnels for London's new Crossrail.

According to The Guardian UK, it has long been taught that the Black Death was spread by the fleas on rats, however the skeletons point to a new theory of the epidemiology: the disease was airborne. That is to say that the rapid nature of its spread may preclude other, slower transmission factors such as fleas.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

"[Rats' fleas] as an explanation for the Black Death in its own right, it simply isn't good enough," said Dr. Tim Brooks, one of the scientists at Public Health England in Porton Down. "It cannot spread fast enough from one household to the next to cause the huge number of cases that we saw during the Black Death epidemics."

For the plague to have spread as quickly as it did, he theorizes, it must have been embedded in the lungs, then spread through coughs and sneezes. Because of this, it would be formally classified as a pneumonic plague (driven by respiratory infection) rather than a bubonic plague (driven by lymphatic infection).

The Black Death arrived in London in 1348 and over the following year killed nearly 6 in 10 across the city. Such a plague would result in the death of nearly 5 million if it were to take place today in London.

Scientists took teeth from 12 of the skeletons and submitted them to extensive DNA testing to discover that the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, was nearly an exact match with modern strains, some of which recently killed 60 people in Madagascar.

They also found that the skeletons were those of the city's poor. Rickets, anemia, rampant back injuries from hard labor, and malnutrition consistent with the Great Famine 30 years prior, suggest lives that were brutish and short.

Today, antibiotics help most infected patients recover if treated early, and scientists say the new skeletons will better humanity's understanding of epidemics and pandemics.

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Send me more news as it happens.
Get me on The Wire
Send me more news as it happens.
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
You May Also Like

Wiley Bridgeman, Ricky Jackson Freed Decades After Wrongful Convictions

Friday, 21 Nov 2014 20:23 PM

Wiley Bridgeman, 60, and Ricky Jackson, 57, were freed Friday after being imprisoned for nearly four decades for a 1975  . . .

Akai Gurley Accidentally Shot and Killed by NYPD Rookie Officer

Friday, 21 Nov 2014 20:04 PM

Unarmed 28-year-old Akai Gurley was accidentally shot dead by a rookie police officer in Brooklyn who was walking with h . . .

Jimmy Kimmel: Mean Tweets About Celebs Read Aloud by Said Celebs (Video)

Friday, 21 Nov 2014 18:57 PM

"Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Thursday brought back the popular, laugh-out-loud Mean Tweets, where celebrities read the cruel t . . .

Top Stories

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved