Research Article: Validation of Inverse Seasonal Peak Mortality in Medieval Plagues, Including the Black Death, in Comparison to Modern Yersinia pestis-Variant Diseases

Date Published: December 22, 2009

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Mark R. Welford, Brian H. Bossak, Dee A. Carter.

Abstract: Recent studies have noted myriad qualitative and quantitative inconsistencies between the medieval Black Death (and subsequent “plagues”) and modern empirical Y. pestis plague data, most of which is derived from the Indian and Chinese plague outbreaks of A.D. 1900±15 years. Previous works have noted apparent differences in seasonal mortality peaks during Black Death outbreaks versus peaks of bubonic and pneumonic plagues attributed to Y. pestis infection, but have not provided spatiotemporal statistical support. Our objective here was to validate individual observations of this seasonal discrepancy in peak mortality between historical epidemics and modern empirical data.

Partial Text: Recent reanalysis of medieval Black Death data (qualitative and quantitative) has resulted in a growing number of published works noting inconstancies between Yersinia pestis-variant disease (bubonic and pneumonic plague) and its attribution to this historical pestilence [1], [2], [3]–[10]. Discrepancies have been noted pertaining to unsupported vector-host dynamics [1], [4], [5], [8], epidemic velocity and peak seasonality of mortality [2], [3], [5], [9], symptomatic descriptions [1], [5], [9], [10], spatiotemporal dynamics [2], [3], [7], and empirical observations of modern Y plagues [11]–[15] among other factors. Nevertheless, the paradigm of medieval Black Death causation (bubonic/pneumonic plague) adopted around the turn of the 20th century remains the dominant etiologic theory.



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