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Was Historical Plague A Viral Or Bacterial Disease? The Question Of Immunity

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Chapter Summary

Cohn and Scott and Duncan advocate alternative theories to the effect that historical plague was a viral disease and maintain, in accordance with this view, that survival of plague infection provided persistent and strong immunity. If the observation or assertion were correct that survivors of historical plague disease acquired strong and persistent immunity, it would constitute substantial evidence that historical plague epidemics could not have been bubonic plague or indeed any other bacterial disease, and probably was a viral disease instead. Since this type of assertion tend to falsify the bubonic plague theory and to justify the search for a tenable alternative, this subject of immunity must also be examined sufficiently thoroughly to decide the matter. Epidemiological theory militates against the notion that the Black Death and subsequent plague epidemics could have been a viral disease but is compatible with a bacterial disease.

Keywords: bacterial disease; Black Death; historical plague; immunity; viral disease



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