The Black Death is thought to have originated in the arid plains of Central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1343. From there, it was most likely carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships. Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe 's total population. In total, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. The world population as a whole did not recover to pre-plague levels until the 17th century. The plague recurred occasionally in Europe until the 19th century.
The plague created a series of religious, social, and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history.
Origins of the disease
The plague disease, caused by Yersinia pestis, is enzootic in populations of fleas carried by ground rodents, including marmots, in various areas including Central Asia, Kurdistan, Western Asia, Northern India and Uganda. Nestorian graves dating to 1338–9 near Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan have inscriptions referring to plague and are thought by many epidemiologists to mark the outbreak of the epidemic, from which it c...
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...e Black Death and subsequent resurgences. The authors concluded that this new research, together with prior analyses from the south of France and Germany
...ends the debate about the etiology of the Black Death, and unambiguously demonstrates that Y. pestis was the causative agent of the epidemic plague that devastated Europe during the Middle Ages.
The results of the Haensch study have since been confirmed and amended. Based on genetic evidence derived from Black Death victims in the East Smithfield burial site in England, Schuenemann et al. concluded in 2011 "that the Black Death in medieval Europe was caused by a variant of Y. pestis that may no longer exist." A study published in Nature in October 2011 sequenced the genome of Y. pestis from plague victims and indicated that the strain that caused the Black Death is ancestral to most modern strains of the disease.
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