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The Issue And The Problems

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Chapter Summary

Most of our knowledge of bubonic plague was established by medical scholars and entomologists, often organized in research teams who studied the great wave of plague epidemics in China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, and elsewhere in the period c. 1894-1940, the so-called third pandemic. The fact that bubonic plague has its basis in black rats and their rat fleas gives the disease a characteristic pattern of development. The history of alternative theories of the transmission of bubonic plague may be said to have begun with the theory which attributes importance to the role of the human flea (and even lice), usually as a contributory vector. All advocates of alternative plague theories have in common several basic assumptions that they consider sufficient conditions for rejecting the idea that historical plague epidemics were bubonic plague.

Keywords: alternative plague theories; bubonic plague; human flea theory



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