Rats not responsible for black plague

A recent study has shown that the plague spread so quickly that the carriers couldn’t have been rats, as is commonly believed.

The black plague, or black death as it is sometimes referred to was a disease outburst so horrible that it killed some 30-60% of the population of Europe. Even to this day, few diseases have been even nearly as deadly; and most of the blame was taken by rats, who were believed to be the carriers. However, a study conducted in London by Barney Sloane, archaeologist, showed that the disease spread so fast that the carriers couldn’t be rats, and that there is only one possible explanation – the carriers were humans.

“The evidence just isn’t there to support it,” said Barney Sloane, author of The Black Death in London. “We ought to be finding great heaps of dead rats in all the waterfront sites but they just aren’t there. And all the evidence I’ve looked at suggests the plague spread too fast for the traditional explanation of transmission by rats and fleas. It has to be person to person – there just isn’t time for the rats to be spreading it.”

He even raised some questions about the disease itself, casting some doubt on whether it was in fact bubonic plague or not.

“It was certainly the Black Death but it is by no means certain what that disease was, whether in fact it was bubonic plague.”

The study is still a work in progress, and probably more light will be cast on the matter soon enough.

10 thoughts on “Rats not responsible for black plague

  1. Pedro Zer

    This is stupid, of course the rats were the carriers and the responsible for the plague, or more specifically their fleas. It is also well known that infected humans were very dangerous, even in those ages, and specifically GYPSIES because they were NOMADS and were the ones that spreaded the black plague the most.

    That’s why the judge Frollo in the Hunchback of Notre-Dame prosecutes gypsies, it’s not a background of xenophobia or racism, but about plague control.

    So this study doesn’t reveal anything new that was previously unknown, at most it will make some blindfolds fall from the eyes of some dumb people.

  2. RITA

    This article doesn’t make sense. Why would an archaeologist be expecting to find heaps of rats? Does being a carrier of the fleas mean the rats died of the illness? No. If the rats were infected and died, do they hold mass burials? No. And they move faster than humans do and they run off and die just about anywhere. Did the common people of Europe kill the rats and bury them? They probably saw no causal relationship. If they had, wouldn’t they have burned the rats? Of course, person-to-person transmission infected many, but how would traveling troubadours, pilgrims, and gypsies move that disease over a huge part of Europe when most transportation for people in that time was by foot?? I think it’s such a weak argument. I’d like to see more science and logic before ruling out the rats, fleas, and general lack of sanitation.

  3. ImLazyToo

    Seriously all you people asking for links to sources are just plain lazy.

    It’s an article about someone, Barney Sloane, who has written a book, ‘The Black Death in London’. As stated in the article.

    What kind of sources do you want?

  4. Allthingsnew

    With all of the research on the Black Death you can find for yourself that humans did carry the disease and pass it to other humans. But, the disease came from rats, different rodents which were bitten by fleas carrying the disease. Once the person contracted the disease it could be easily spread. There was actually two forms of the disease. The more lethal variant of the plague was the pneumonic plague that attacked the respiratory system and caused the infected to cough up blood which helped spread the disease. Most of those infected with the pneumonic plague died within two days compared to a week for those who had only the lymphatic system infected. Either way the lifespan was short once contracted. This time period was not like now. People lacked proper hygiene and lived in very close proximity. Rats ran ramped through streets and in people’s homes. It was not uncommon to be bitten by a flea or even have fleas living on people. What made it worse is that when it started happening they all thought God was punishing them so they would hold massive city wide prayer sessions. This helped the disease spread through contact. There is no evidence that the disease killed rats by the thousands. It is concluded that when the rats died of the disease it took much longer and living rats did feast on dead rats bodies. So you wouldn’t find mass rat graves.  

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