Archaeologists have unearthed a 'Black Death' grave in
London, containing more than a dozen skeletons of people suspected to have died
from the plague. The victims are thought to have died during the 14th century
and archaeologists anticipate finding many more as they excavate the site.
The Plague is by definition a re-emerging infectious disease
which affects the lungs and is highly contagious, leading to mass outbreaks
across populations. History shows us that population levels suffered globally
due to the plague, with around 75 million people globally perishing during the
14th century Black Death.
How the study was
This study, published in Infection,
Genetics and Evolution, analysed the Great Plague of Marseille, which
caused 100 000 deaths between 1720 and 1723. The researchers aimed to highlight
issues we are facing with infectious diseases today, to identify the best ways
to respond to epidemics and whether we are still at risk of the plague
Results show that a number of factors show we are still at risk
of plague today. This is largely due to transport trade and novel threats in
developing countries where multi-drug resistant pathogens are currently
emerging and spreading rapidly. This genetic change has also contributed to a
development in the way the bacteria infect new hosts meaning they can now live
in mammalian blood.
The study also highlighted the need for effective management
of epidemics in future. Fear of in infection can have a negative impact on a
population's economic situation due to a significant loss of tourism, and
widespread panic. History has shown us that providing the necessary information
about diseases and improving the management of epidemics are vital steps for
avoiding panic and containing diseases.