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Plague: Still a Threat, but Evidence and Preparedness Are Keys to Fighting Back

Amesh Adalja, Christina A Nelson
Date posted:
May 22, 2020
Publication type:
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Oxford University Press

Plague is an infectious disease that has haunted the human species for millennia. The Justinian Plague in the 6th century and the Black Death beginning in the 14th century were civilization-shattering events, the effects of which were felt long after plague had dissipated [3]. What conferred this capacity on plague was its virulence, its transmission characteristics, and a lack of effective countermeasures, which did not appear until the 20th century.

Plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, continues to cause disruptive and deadly outbreaks, especially in resource-limited areas. Recent outbreaks in Madagascar and Uganda have triggered domestic turmoil, large-scale antimicrobial prophylaxis of case contacts and health-care workers, and concern for international spread [4, 5].



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