The Black Plague wasn’t caused by rats, new study says

It would seem that we owe a thousand apologies to rats! New research about the Black Death which killed 60% of England’s population in the 14th century, might not have been caused by rats.

Millions of people died during the Black Death in Europe and in Britain in 1348-1350. The Black Death has always been one of those things you think about, but don’t ever want to talk about, like that movie Contagion, it wasn’t great, but it’s super duper scary.

The Black Death

So until now, the belief has always been that the Bubonic Plague – a virus spread by fleas on infected rats – spread the disease that claimed so many souls, but now research is saying otherwise, that it was actually the Pneumonic Plague – an airborne virus that attack the lungs.

25 skeletons of Black Death victims have undergone new analysis which supports this conclusion. According to The Guardian:

“As an explanation [rat fleas] for the Black Death in its own right, it simply isn’t good enough. 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,” one expert says.


One of the most interesting is that the bacterium Yersinia pestis, the cause of Bubonic Plague is actually found all over the world. So why was it so different back then? Well, the bones of the victims revealed poor health, intense manual labour, famine and disease. Sounds harsh.

That Ringer, Ringer Rosey song makes perfect sense now. Cover your nose when you sneeze please.

Awww see, they're not so bad

Awww see, they’re not so bad


One thought on “The Black Plague wasn’t caused by rats, new study says

  1. Pingback: Weekly archaeology roundup 4/4/2014 | Unearthed

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