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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Paleoclimate and bubonic plague: a forewarning of future risk?

Anthony J McMichael

Author Affiliations

National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Building 62, Mills Road, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

BMC Biology 2010, 8:108  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-108

Published: 27 August 2010


Pandemics of bubonic plague have occurred in Eurasia since the sixth century AD. Climatic variations in Central Asia affect the population size and activity of the plague bacterium's reservoir rodent species, influencing the probability of human infection. Using innovative time-series analysis of surrogate climate records spanning 1,500 years, a study in BMC Biology concludes that climatic fluctuations may have influenced these pandemics. This has potential implications for health risks from future climate change.

See research article webcite