Daryl Ilbury

Modern challenge of a medieval pandemic

In Science on October 13, 2011 at 6:31 am

Atishoo...atishoo...we all fall down

The current film Contagion draws on evidence of how the scientific community would deal with an outbreak of a particularly hostile pathogen. Parallels are drawn with the Black Death that decimated Europe in the 14th century, killing almost half the population.

Luckily since then our immune systems have grown stronger, mainly as a result of our improved, modern lifestyles.

Ironically though, that same modern lifestyle would, if there was such an outbreak as portrayed in Contagion, present a challenge that would have been easier to deal with in 14th century Europe – how quickly to bury the dead.

Here’s a link to an excellent Nature video that explains why: Decoding the Black Death

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