Return to the Ratropolis website. Like us on Facebook.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Rats and Rat Fleas Exonerated - Not to Blame for Spreading Black Death

Good news for rat lovers everywhere. Scientists no longer believe the Black Death was spread by rat fleas. First, it was the rats who got the blame for spreading the disease that killed 6 of 10 people in the city of London in the mid-1300's. Then the rats were cleared and their parasitic pest, the rat flea, was blamed instead. Finally, we know that rats are not the dirty, disease-spreading creature that they are often portrayed as because of this historic connection to the plague. Instead, the dirty, disease-spreading creature turns out to be . . . . other humans.

In the article Black Death was not Spread by Rat Fleas, Say Researchers, scientists examined skeletons recovered in the Clerkenwell area of London and have determined that the plague could not have been spread by rat fleas and instead had to have been airborne in order to spread the way it did. They compared the DNA of the plague organism to the DNA of a plague organism that recently killed 60 people in Madagascar. They found it was no more virulent than the modern version. Yet the modern version did not spread the way the older organism did. They concluded this is because modern antibiotics prevent the disease from becoming pneumonic (airborne). Thus, the quick spread of the plague back in the 14th century had to be attributed to it being spread via the air, not via rat fleas. This would mean that the plague was not actually a bubonic plague, but instead a pneumonic plague.

This article just reinforces what we rat owners already know. Rats are not the huge disease threat that people make them out to be. Instead, humans are the biggest disease threat.

1 comment:

  1. Exciting news! I'm going to post this on my Facebook page for all to see. :D