The most devastating pandemics in history come from the same bacteria

The most devastating pandemics in history come from the same bacteria


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An international team of experts has carried out a study on two of the most destructive plagues in the history of mankind: the plague of Justinian, which affected the Byzantine Empire in the middle of the 6th century and spread throughout many areas of the Near East, Asia, Europe and North Africaand the Black Plague, which ended the lives of millions of people around the world.

Scientists have analyzed the possible relationships between the two epidemics, concluding that both share in their origin different types of the same pathogen. According to the statements of Hendrik Poinar, director of the McMaster Ancient DNA Center (an institution dedicated to the investigation of numerous biological and molecular questions from the historical and paleontological perspective), there is a possibility that a new outbreak of the epidemic will appear again in the future.

Poinar and the other researchers question whether really these pests were completely extinguished and they ensure that responses to these approaches will allow a better understanding of the dynamics of current infectious diseases. The plague of Justinian it was the cause of the death of between 30 and 50 million people, and the Black Death, 800 years later, killed 50 million European lives only between 1347 and 1351, reappearing again in the 19th century.

Analyzing the DNA of two victims of the plague of Justinian from a medieval cemetery in Bavaria, have been able to rebuild the oldest genome ofYersinia pestis, the bacteria that cause disease, and they have contrasted it with a database of more than one hundred classes of viruses. The results suggest that the strain that originated the Justinian outbreak differs from those that caused the Black Plague and other related epidemics, so that it would essentially be the same common bacterium that evolved in different lineages.The same happened with a third pandemic, derived from the Black Death, which spread from Hong Kong to the whole world.

As stated Dave wagner, another of the study participants, “We know that the bacterium Y. pestis has been transmitted from rodents to humans throughout history and that there are still reserves of the pest in many parts of the world. If the Justinian plague could break out among the human population, it would cause a massive pandemic, and then it would disappear. Fortunately, we now have antibiotics that could be effective in treating the plague, reducing the chances of another large-scale pandemic.«.

For its part, Poinar does not rule out the possibility of mutations in the bacteria that end up being potentially dangerous for humansFor example, if it ended up being capable of being transmitted through the air, it would kill many people in a matter of hours. In addition, it warns that plague is a disease that still affects tropical and subtropical areas, although a timely diagnosis prevents complications and allows successful treatment.

Romantic, in the artistic sense of the word. In my adolescence both family and friends reminded me over and over that I was an inveterate humanist, as I spent time doing what perhaps others not so much, believing myself to be Bécquer, immersed in my own artistic fantasies, in books and movies, constantly wanting to travel and explore the world, admired for my historical past and for the wonderful productions of the human being. That is why I decided to study History and combine it with Art History, because it seemed to me the most appropriate way to carry out the skills and passions that characterize me: reading, writing, traveling, researching, knowing, making known, educating. Disclosure is another of my motivations, because I understand that there is no word that has real value if it is not because it has been transmitted effectively. And with this, I am determined that everything I do in my life has an educational purpose.


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