chapter  1
10 Pages

Plague, its emergence and persistence through recent human history

WithWelford Mark

The bacterium, Yersinia pestis, known as plague, has killed tens if not hundreds of millions of people over the last 2,000–2,500 years and yet has been responsible for some of the most critical innovations in public health–those of quarantine and disease surveillance. It has killed tens of millions through the First Pandemic, the Second Pandemic and the third Plague Pandemic. The beginning of the Second Pandemic is couched in Eurocentric terms; it is the beginning of the medieval Black Death, otherwise known as the primary wave of the medieval Black Death from 1347–1353. Septicemic plague is the blood infection form of bubonic Yersinia pestis. In contrast, pneumonic plague begins as an infection in the lungs and spreads through the coughing of aerosol droplets. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.