Human ectoparasites and the spread of plague in Europe during the Second Pandemic

by Katharine R. Dean, Fabienne Krauer, Lars Walløe et al.
PNAS Early Edition, December 4, 2017

6 pp. 10 MB
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/01/09/1715640115.full.pdf

Rats have long been blamed for spreading the parasites that transmitted plague throughout medieval Europe and Asia, killing millions of people. Now, a provocative new study has modelled these long-ago outbreaks and suggests that the maligned rodents may not be the culprits after all. The study instead points the finger at human parasites – such as fleas and body lice – for primarily spreading plague bacteria during the Second Pandemic, a series of devastating outbreaks that spanned from the 1300s to the early 1800s.

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