Plague: a review of its history and potential as a biological weapon

Semin Pediatr Infect Dis. 2006 Jul;17(3):161-70. doi: 10.1053/j.spid.2006.07.002.


The increased threat of terrorism has revealed the importance of various diseases as potential weapons of destruction. Among the diseases that have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being caused by category A organisms is plague. An ancient disease, it has played a role in both natural disasters and war and has been used as a weapon since at least medieval times. This article provides a brief historical overview of the disease in its natural occurrence and in its use as a biological weapon, as well as its potential for future use.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioterrorism / history*
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Plague / epidemiology
  • Plague / history*
  • Yersinia pestis*