A new study suggests that rats were not at fault for spreading the plague or the Black Death across the 14th Century Europe. Researchers believe that the real culprits behind the millions of deaths at the time were the lice and fleas hosted by humans.
The recent study challenges the wide-spread assumption that rodents were the disease carriers during the pandemic affecting Old Continent in the 1300s.
The findings appeared this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Plague is a bacterial disease caused by Yersinia pestis which thrives in the bodies of rats and their fleas. The Black Death killed 30 percent of Europe’s population in the medieval times. Yet, the jury was still out on how the disease had spread so quickly from one person to another.
Researchers noticed that today’s plague gets transmitted from one person to another through the fleas that had left the infected bodies of rats to feed on human hosts. This could have been the case with the pandemic called the Black Death. Researchers have believed for years that when sick rats died, their fleas jumped to nearby humans and infected them.
New Study Challenges Prior Beliefs
However, not all researchers agree with this version of the story as it fails to match the historical evidence. For example, historical records never mention a die-off of medieval rats. What’s more, the Black Death has spread faster and killed more people than the plague does today.
So, a recent study speculates that fleas and other human parasites at the time were behind the pandemic, not rats. Study authors argue that lice and fleas might have bitten infected corpses and spread the infection to other humans.
In their study, researchers used mathematical models to prove their theory based on multiple outbreaks between the 14th Century and the 19th Century.
Image Source: Pixabay
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