Between 1348 and 1351, the Black Death -- or bubonic plague -- killed up to three in five people as it spread rapidly through pre-industrial cities, unchecked by sanitation or modern medicine. That, and subsequent waves of the Yersinia pestis bacterium, claimed the lives of tens of millions of Europeans. Direct descendants of the same plague still exist, killing about 2,000 people each year – although they are often now treatable with antibiotics.
Scientists now have sequenced the entire genome of the Black Death using DNA extracted from plague victims.
You can read more in an article by Jim Maceda in the NBC News web site at http://goo.gl/XAywA.
My thanks to newsletter reader Larry Head for telling me about this story.
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