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ISSN: 2329-8731

Journal of Infectious Diseases & Preventive Medicine
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Review Article

Lessons Learned from Historic Plague Epidemics: The Relevance of an Ancient Disease in Modern Times

Nicholas A Boire1*, Victoria Avery A Riedel2, Nicole M Parrish1 and Stefan Riedel1,3

1Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, USA

2The Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

3Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Nicholas Boire
Department of Pathology, Division of Microbiology
The Johns Hopkins University, 600 N. Wolfe Street
Meyer B1-124, Baltimore, MD 21287-7093, USA
Tel: 410-550-7213
Fax: 410-550-2109
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: May 17, 2014; Accepted date: August 12, 2014; Published date: August 14, 2014

Citation: Boire NA, Riedel VAA, Parrish NM, Riedel S (2014) Lessons Learned from Historic Plague Epidemics: The Relevance of an Ancient Disease in Modern Times. J Anc Dis Prev Rem 2:114. doi: 10.4172/2329-8731.1000e118

Copyright: © 2014 Boire NA, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Plague has been without doubt one of the most important and devastating epidemic diseases of mankind. During the past decade, this disease has received much attention because of its potential use as an agent of biowarfare and bioterrorism. However, while it is easy to forget its importance in the 21st century and view the disease only as a historic curiosity, relegating it to the sidelines of infectious diseases, plague is clearly an important and re-emerging infectious disease. In today’s world, it is easy to focus on its potential use as a bioweapon, however, one must also consider that there is still much to learn about the pathogenicity and enzoonotic transmission cycles connected to the natural occurrence of this disease. Plague is still an important, naturally occurring disease as it was 1,000 years ago. This review highlights some of the important aspects of the disease throughout history with a discussion of the current situation of naturally occurring plague in the 21st century.


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