Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

Ancient DNA studies have identified Yersinia pestis, the aetiological agent of the Third Pandemic, as the cause of the previous plague pandemics: the First Pandemic (sixth to eighth centuries) and the Second Pandemic (fourteen to nineteenth centuries).

Bubonic plague in China was thought to have first spread from Yunnan region of southwest China which, itself, is likely to have been infected by transmissions over the trade routes from India.

The Third Plague Pandemic caused multiple outbreaks since 1772. It spreading beyond China’s borders after it reached the southeast coast. This plague spread from Yunnan Province in 1867 to Beihai on the coastline. It was then observed in Taiwan Province in 1869 and Hainan Island in 1882.

In 1894, plague reached Canton and then spread to Hong Kong, where Alexandre Yersin first isolated and identified the bacterium Yersinia pestis, the pathogen causing plague

Four years later in 1898 his successor, Paul-Louis Simond, a fellow Pastorien and a French naval doctor, demonstrated that the Oriental rat flea was the vector for the bacillus and the sources of the bacillus were the sewer rats.

The plague was then carried by ships to Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and the Indian subcontinent. Over the next few years, plague spread to many cities around the world: Bombay, Singapore, Alexandria, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Honolulu, San Francisco and Sidney, among others.

The earliest known European cases occurred in September and October 1896, when two sailors from Bombay died of plague on ships docked in London on the Thames.

Within 10 years (1894–1903) plague entered 77 ports on five continents. Plague became widespread in a number of countries. In India, there were over 6 million deaths from 1898 to 1908. There was a total of 22 million people died by this single disease.
The Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

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