Plague: A Disease Which Changed the Path of Human Civilization

  • Barbara BramantiEmail author
  • Nils Chr. Stenseth
  • Lars Walløe
  • Xu Lei
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 918)


Plague caused by Yersinia pestis is a zoonotic infection, i.e., it is maintained in wildlife by animal reservoirs and on occasion spills over into human populations, causing outbreaks of different entities. Large epidemics of plague, which have had significant demographic, social, and economic consequences, have been recorded in Western European historical documents since the sixth century. Plague has remained in Europe for over 1400 years, intermittently disappearing, yet it is not clear if there were reservoirs for Y. pestis in Western Europe or if the pathogen was rather reimported on different occasions from Asian reservoirs by human agency. The latter hypothesis thus far seems to be the most plausible one, as it is sustained by both ecological and climatological evidence, helping to interpret the phylogeny of this bacterium.


Yersinia pestis Outbreak Pandemics Historic Civilization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Bramanti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nils Chr. Stenseth
    • 1
  • Lars Walløe
    • 2
  • Xu Lei
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of BiosciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Medical SciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and PreventionChinese Center for Disease Control and PreventionChangpingPeople’s Republic of China

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