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HomeMongolia NewsAncient DNA Helps Uncover Origins of Black Death

Ancient DNA Helps Uncover Origins of Black Death

While we continue to fight the pandemic of the present – COVID-19 – scientists are using modern technologies to uncover new findings about the pandemics of the past. A new study published in Nature outlines the use of ancient DNA analysis to uncover the history of the Black Death.

The single deadliest pandemic in human history

The Black Death, a bubonic plague outbreak caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis), is regarded as the single deadliest pandemic in human history. “The Black Death claimed some 50–60% of the total population of West Eurasia in the course of approximately seven years (1346–53),” explains Dr. Philip Slavin, associate professor of history at the University of Stirling, Scotland.

Y. pestis infected mammals, such as mice, rats and dogs, which fleas would feed upon before transmitting the microorganism to humans through their bites. Bubonic plague is therefore an example of a zoonotic disease.

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