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Finding a Key Clue to The Black Death

By: Derick Zhang

The Black Death was a plague that started in China, a disease carried by fleas from rats. Since the Silk Road was still used the traders who carried goods to Europe also carried the disease to Europe. After that it spread like wildfire and killed 60% percent of the entire population of Europe.

For centuries people have tried time and time again to find “what caused this absolute madness of a disease?” Most think that it was the second large Y. pestis outbreak, the first was the Plague of Justinian around 800 years before the second outbreak. The second outbreak was “coincidentally” only a couple of years before the Black Death, which is why many scientists and medical historians think the Y. pestis outbreak was the cause of the Black Death.

Many people thought that the Y. pestis was the cause of the Bubonic Plague. Unfortunately, there was a problem, they didn’t have any proof that this was the Y. pestis actually caused the Black Death. So, for years they tried finding evidence that the Y. pestis caused this outbreak. Finally, after so many years they found something and something big. The team was led by Wolfgang Haak and Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany started by trying to find bones remains from cemeteries. But they couldn’t study it because it was a disease that kills people so quickly it doesn’t leave any traces on bones, so the plan was a bust, then they went to a place where people had found bones with traces of the DNA from the plague and even better, had a date of when they died. With the DNA and date, they found DNA from the Y. pestis and compared. It was a match which proved that yes, the Y. pestis was the cause of the Bubonic Plague.

Comparing this to Covid, they’re both from China, they have both killed millions of people. Though the Bubonic Plague has killed more people than Covid has by a HUGE margin. The Bubonic Plague killed 25 million people while Covid has killed 6.32 million which is measly compared to the Black Death but is still a lot of people and plus Black Death outbreaks have happened multiple times while Covid has only had one pandemic. Both have the same

symptoms of fever and chills. We now know the origin of the Black Death, but will we ever find the origin of Covid? If so, how long. A year? A decade? A century?

With the development of technology, we can and will solve some of the most baffling mysteries, as we have now with the Black Death.

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