All bites are off - fleas did spread plague

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COUNTY archaeologists have provided conclusive proof that the plague which wiped out about 60 per cent of the European population in the 14th century was caused by fleas.

Human skeletons excavated from pits near Hereford Cathedral helped scholars at Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service definitively confirm the plague’s origins.

The team were working as part of an international science project in partnership with the University of Mainz in Germany.

Their findings, published in an online journal, provide final proof that the plague spread via the transmission of the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which was passed on through bites from fleas carried by black rats.

This effectively rules out other common theories, including that the Black Death was actually a fever, and resolves a long-standing debate about the cause of the devastating disease....

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