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Take a look at this recent article from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15278366
Quote from: Don_1 on 25/10/2011 11:34:36Take a look at this recent article from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15278366It does indicate that Yersinia Pestis has had some genetic drift over the centuries. The question is how the plague reached Europe. Where did it come from? Did it make a jump from an animal species to humans, or was it endemic to a small remote human population, only released by the increased trade of the Renaissance? Anyway, it is likely that it was a novel bacterium to a large number of people during the Renaissance. The article is a bit unclear, but other earlier plagues may have been a different bacterium.I'm going to go with a combination of less virulent bacterium, better treatment for the infections, better hygiene, and some genetic immunity. Buboes, for example, are rare in Western Civilization.
Survival may have also been affected by how you caught it, whether directly from the flea that transmitted it, or from another person. A person with oozing boboes or the respiratory form of plague might deliver a much higher dose of it to the next person than a flea would.Some zoonotic bacteria can actually become more virulent after being passed a few times through a different animal host than the one it normally infects, but I dont know if this is true of Y. pestis.