Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
, 207 (2), 165-78

The History of the Plague and the Research on the Causative Agent Yersinia Pestis

Affiliations
Review

The History of the Plague and the Research on the Causative Agent Yersinia Pestis

Björn P Zietz et al. Int J Hyg Environ Health.

Abstract

The plague is an infectious bacterial disease having a high fatality rate without treatment. It has occurred in three huge pandemics since the 6th century with millions of deaths and numerous smaller epidemics and sporadic cases. Referring to specific clinical symptoms of pulmonary plague the disease became known as the Black Death. This pandemic probably originated in central Asia and began spreading westward along major trade routes. Upon the arrival in the eastern Mediterranean the disease quickly spread especially by sea traffic to Italy, Greece and France and later throughout Europe by land. Until the 18th century many European cities were frequently affected by other great plague epidemics. The worldwide spread of the third pandemic began when the plague reached Hong Kong and Canton in the year 1894. The gram-negative coccobacillus now designated as Yersinia pestis has been discovered as the causative agent of plague in this Hong Kong outbreak. In the following years the role of rats and fleas and their detailed role in the transmission of plague has been discovered and experimentally verified. Today the plague is still endemic in many countries of the world.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 12 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. Aberth J. Routledge; New York: 2001. From the brink of the apocalypse: confronting famine, war, plague, and death in the later Middle Ages.
    1. Achtman M., Zurth K., Morelli G., Torrea G., Guiyoule A., Carniel E. Yersinia pestis, the cause of plague, is a recently emerged clone of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Proc. Nat. Acc. Sci. 1999;96:14043–14048. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Anonymous: Ars moriendi ex variis Scripturarum sententiis collecta cum fig. Leipzig, Konrad Kachelofen, around 1497/1498.
    1. Bacot, A. W., Martin, C. J.: Reports on plague investigations in India. LXVII. Observations on the mechanism of the transmission of plague by fleas. J. Hyg. 13 (Plague Suppl. 3), 423–439 (1914). - PMC - PubMed
    1. Bean, J. M. W.: The Black Death: the crisis and its social and economic consequences. In: The black death: the impact of the fourteenth-century plague; papers of the Eleventh Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval & Early Renaissance Studies (ed. by D. Williman). Binghamton, NY: Center for Medieval & Early Renaissance Studies, 1982, pp. 23–38.

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback