Could the Black Death happen again?

Hold on to your buboes. In 2016 a Madagascan outbreak of the bubonic plague killed 26 people.

6th March 2017
Could the Black Death happen again? (Getty)


Bubonic plague killed at least one-third of the population of Europe between 1346 and 1353. But that was before we knew it was caused by the bacterium Yersina pestis.

Bubonic plague does still occasionally occur in small flare-ups of a few dozen cases, but we have antibiotics to treat it now. Plus, better hygiene makes it very hard for a disease spread by flea bites to become a global pandemic again. 


Get more fascinating Q&As from BBC Focus magazine by following @sciencefocusQA