27 January 2008

On Whether Y. Pestis Caused the Black Death

I discussed this on the Usenet* group Rec.Org.SCA about three years ago.

I was watching something on the Discovery Channel, and some people were making arguments that the Black Death could not have been Yerisnia Pestis, because some of its characteristics were simply completely at odds with what is observed in modern Bubonic Plague outbreaks.

Looking back at the archives, my assessment was that it was likely a variant of the Plague with a higher affinity for lung tissues (I mention the Marmot sub-variant as an example).

In any case, Tara C. Smith just did a 4 part blog series on Y. pestis as the black death, which thoroughly convinces me that Y. pestis was Black Death.
It's a very good read.

*Originally called UUCP, it was a system for bouncing public BBS type messages through the internet. You can still access it, and it works fairly well, but the signal to noise ratio degraded to the point of near uselessness when AOL gave it's (l)users access to the system during the Eternal September, with the inevitable tragedy of the commons.


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