Talk:Plague (disease)

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Redirect discussion[edit]

I don't think plague should redirect here. There have been plagues of other things—and not just infectious diseases. What about the Biblical plagues of Egypt, for instance? (See Seder#The Third Telling). —Mulad 17:18, 5 Jun 2004 (UTC)

  • Interesting point, but in the minds of most English-speakers, the word "plague" would bring to mind the biblical plagues and the bubonic plague. The latter, however, is the plague. Perhaps a link at the top would be appropriate -- I would add it, but I don't know what the name of the article is where biblical plagues are discussed. Jonathan Grynspan (On a sidenote, can anyone explain the relationship of Doctor Beak is to the article? I don't get it, silly me.)
    • Re: Doctor Beak: I wondered that myself, so I looked into the source of the image - apparently during the 14th century plagues, some doctors treating plague victims would wear protective clothing, including bird-like masks. Not well-explained in the caption, and the image may actually be more appropriate to the Black Death article than this one. Kevyn 00:31, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)
    • Re: Doctor Beak: The bird-like masks were stuffed with spices and plant fibers "duh" -- both to deal with odors and to "strain the miasma" which was thought to carry the plague. Sometimes it did work. Its modern analog - guaze masks - actually do help strain bacillus particles and reduce infection. I do agree that moving the picture to the "Black Death" would be more topical. 2/05 -W (currently an anonymous) as of 02/17-05 WBardwin 06:08, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Bubonic plague vs. Black Death[edit]

why are there two mostly similar articles? Black Death contains more or less the same info. -- Kku 16:25, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I wondered the same thing myself, and considered merging them. However, after examining both articles, I believe that they should remain separate.
Bubonic plague is a general article about a disease. Black Death, however, is an article about an event, a very specific outbreak which occurred in the mid-1300's. By some estimates, the Black Death wiped out one-third of the European population, changing the entire course of European history. I believe this specific event was monumental enough to merit a separate article.
There are also some arguments made that The Black Death was not caused by bubonic plague at all, though these are not commonly accepted. I make no judgements about this, but the existence of the debate suggests to me a need for separate articles.
A very strong argument could be made for merging the two articles, and I could be swayed, though it might end up being a very long article. And granted, the two terms are often interchangeable in the public's mind. such, I have added a disambiguating disclaimer to the tops of both articles, to help readers determine which article they want.
Kevyn 05:46, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
The statement that the Black Death was not caused by bubonic plague is not "commonly accepted" to my mind reflects the conservativism of text books and popular opinion, not science. There is every reason to treat these subjects as separate.--Grahamec 04:48, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
On that point, the section of that article that talks about the idea of it not being bubonic plague seems very biased. The work of only one researcher is presented on the one side of the issue. Further, there are some logical fallacies in that guy's work. -Andy
For example, there's this;
"Many modern researchers have argued that the disease was more likely to have been viral (that is, not bubonic plague), pointing to the absence of rats from some parts of Europe that were badly affected and to the conviction of people at the time that the disease was spread by direct human contact."
Now i'm not sure about the rats, but the "conviction of the people" can hardly be relied on, considering how convinced they were that things like cats, jews, and 'bad air' were also causes. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:21, 5 March 2007 (UTC).

There seems to be the implicit assumption in some of these contributions that rats were a necessary vector host and that there is some sort of mutual exclusivity between one form of plague transmission and another. I suggest that this is a simplistic view and that he role of the human flea has been entirely overlooked here.

There's also this;
"different seasonality — the modern plague can only be sustained at temperatures between 50 and 78 degrees F (10 and 26 degrees C) and requires high humidity, while the Black Death occurred even in Norway in the middle of the winter and in the Mediterranean in the middle of hot dry summers"
This could be explained by mutation of the bacteria, and we know bacteria mutate and adapt.
Also, something should be mentioned about the History Channel program on this. According to that program, a DNA test based on the material from the teeth of plague victims, similar to that done on that Greek Plague also mentioned this article, supports the idea that it was the bacterium that causes Bubonic Plague which caused the Black Death.
My point is, this article presents that one guy's view, even though there are flaws there too, as "the" authoritative view.
No real scientific evidence has ever been presented to support Alexandre Yersin's suggestion (to increase his own prestige) that they were the same disease. The only reason for even mentioning Yersin's theory is that it has been around so long and as is so often repeated. Any evidence, such as the DNA evidence referred to above, would be welcome (but I don't think it is credible). I'm rather inclined to think that the measures taken at the time such as quarantine (which wouldn't have had any effect on a rat-borne plague) must have had some success. I doubt if a virus would have mutated to become less viable at a lower range of temperatures and humidity, more likely human's evolved to become more resistant (Samuel Pepys claimed 200 years after the first outbreak that his "thick skin" protected him, so he could walk all around plague-affected London without fear). --Grahamec 04:11, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, i'm mostly just speculating here. Also, the DNA experiment was, as I said, mentioned on a History Channel program, so I can't cite that. Maybe someone else can find a link to some scholarly article about that? Also, I was thinking that rats were surely not the only rodent capable of transmitting the pathogen right? According to the History Channel program at least, it exists in the American Southwest via prairie dogs and squirrels and maybe something else I can't remember. So I would guess that the spread to areas rats weren't very prevalent could be explained if there were other rodents around that could transmit it and survive in those climates. But again, that's just speculation. I realize it's not enough to get that guy's ideas taken out of the article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Y2robylaw (talkcontribs) 08:26, 6 March 2007 (UTC).-Andy

Im really confused now is the black plague the victorian plague please help —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Plague in NYC, ex New Mexico 2002[edit]

From New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene Alert: Two cases of travel-associated bubonic plague in New York City

"Human plague has been reported most often from the four western states of Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Wild rodents, especially ground squirrels and prairie dogs, are the natural reservoir for the plague bacterium. Since January 1980, there have been 272 cases of plague reported in the United States; the overwhelming majority of cases were bubonic plague. Of these, 143 (53%) were acquired in New Mexico. Plague is not enzootic in the eastern United States; there has not been a case of plague in New York City in at least 100 years." Petersam 17:31, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Historical Cases[edit]

"The Plague of Justinian is the first known pandemic on record, and it also marks the first recorded case of bubonic plague in 541. At its peak, the plague was killing 10,000 people in Constantinople every day and perhaps 40 percent of the city's inhabitants. It went on to destroy up to a quarter of the human population of the eastern Mediterranean."

In response to this claim of the initial appearance of a pandemic in historical records as the Plague of Justinian, I am pressed to challenge the authority of such a claim in favor of a contradictory, albeit less detailed, piece of information, providing that in the second year of the Peloponnesian War (430 B.C.E.), Athens was decimated by plague, claiming a possible one third of the populace, including Pericles (Western Civilization: A Brief History Vol. 1: to 1715 Speilvogal, Jackson J. West/Wadsworth 1999 Ch. 3, pp. 56, paragraph 2; ISBN 0-534-56062-8). This, in spite the loss, had no consequent effect on the progress and outcome of the war and may have thus been a reason why no full account has ever been accredited to any inherent significance therein. This would nonetheless appear to have preceded the plague of Constantinople by nearly a millennium.

The omission of this antecedent is curious to me, and if my attempt at correction is misplaced, I would very much like to know how so, as well as your reasons for the omission, both for the sake of my own appreciation of what constitutes academic, indisputable history, and what might qualify a plague as monumental (e.g., were the numbers of the Athenians in the 5th century who’d fallen to the plague simply not high enough for such consideration? Was the account of too questionable an authorship to be deemed as supportable historical fact?)

02-14-05 There are several other literary or historical incidents/accounts of plague epidemics in localized areas. These are of interest both historically and as studies of disease outbreak and contagion. I've placed the Athenian incident (above - unknown contributor) in Localized Epidemics'- and added a few others to the category.

I've also expanded the Pandemics section with a summary of info on the great pandemics of Justinian, the Black Death and Asia. I also changed the title of that section to Historical Pandemics. I'v drawn most of this material from the three references I added to the article, although there is always differences of opinion on some large items and details. Unfortunately, I don't have a source for smaller Asian epidemics, and my info on the Third Pandemic is more limited. Will try and find a few more books. - W. (an anon).

"In the second century C.E., during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan, Rufus of Ephesus records an outbreak of plague in Lybia, Egypt and Syria. He clearly stated that buboes were present and described other symptoms associated with the bubonic plague. This local epidemic preceded the plague pandemic of Constantinople by approximately 350 years."

  • moved this paragraph from the article. My current references disagree on the date - will try to find some confirmation one way or another. -W 02-16-05.
Five out of six references place the Ephesian report in the 2nd century BCE, not in Trajan's time. Copy edited and replaced the paragraph in article. Please comment if you have more information. WBardwin 08:18, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Tracked down an older, but more definative, reference on this quotation. The confusion comes from the fact that Rufus describes an epidemic in his time -- 1st century AD, but makes reference to a much older account of the same disease - with the same symptoms - in the same geographic area - in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE. This author Simpson, preferred the older date for Rufus' reference. Corrections and information placed in the article. WBardwin 10:25, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

A Tree of Plague Articles[edit]

Do we need to subdivide this article -- perhaps into one dealing with the disease and medical information on outbreak and contagion - and one dealing with the historic impact/incidences of plague? The last could tie more closely with the Black Death article and perhaps we should create articles on the other two known pandemics? -W (currently anon.) as of 02/17/05 WBardwin

I found that the Plague of Justinian article already existed, so went ahead and created a Third Pandemic article as well. Little new information in them as yet, but will work at it. I still think breaking history from the disease itself would be good. WBardwin 07:13, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

does anyone know any good informational websites on this subject????????????????

i need help[edit]

does any know any good info websites other than wikipedia??????????????

Both this article and Black Death have link sections at the bottom. A quick search will pull up a number of sites, often history oriented. In addition:

[1] -- This one is only average, but contains links to accounts from the time period.
[2] -- primary source in translation. This one's a little better.
[3] eMedicine site - Good medical info.

Hope you put these to constructive use. Welcome to Wikipedia. WBardwin 21:54, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

google helps

Bubonic Plague in nursery rhymes[edit]

im surprised this article didnt mention the fact that the nursery rhyme "Ring around the Rosey" is about the plague.

Also, theres no mention about the belief that cats were the cause of the bubonic plague in London, effectively leading to the slaughter of cats and causing the plague to flourish unchallenged (cats kill mice who carried fleas). Also, they used to keep coins in jars of vinegar to sanitize them. Anyone found with the plague was immediately barred from leaving their house. -- 01:16, 10 August 2005 (UTC)

Since this is Wikipedia, please feel free to add all the above material, and please cite your sources. Tempshill 22:54, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

I don't think the nursery rhyme is contemporary with the actual event.


This article is just talking about what it is. I would like to kow more: What is the history? Was thre a cure? Where did it start? How long does it take for you to die? (if you do) Are there long lasting side affects? What if children are trying to learn somethig? This isn't going to help. You need more details. I am a concerned parent.

See "Symptoms and Treatment" for the cure. I think the above questions are actually already answered in the article. Tempshill 22:52, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Lab mice recently escaped - why was this notable?[edit]

Can anyone explain why it was remarkable (and very widely and prominently reported) that a few mice infected with bubonic plague escaped? (Other than pointing out poor security at the facility.) The media were writing headlines like it was a new public health hazard, but the news seemed unremarkable to me, seeing as how there are presumably several hundred thousand infected wild squirrels in the Southwest US. Tempshill 22:49, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Naming (again)[edit]

This article is about the diseases caused by Yersinia pestis, one of which is Bubonic plague. While I don't particular like having this article be named "plague" because of the overloaded meanings of that (just look at the disambiguation page), can anyone think of an appropriate disambiugating phrase? "Plague (disease)" might work, but doesn't necesssarily disambiguate clearly (Pestilences of other sorts are sometimes called "plague"). Thoughts? John (Jwy) 06:20, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree. While bubonic plague is it's most common name, it is inappropriate since it is one of three manifestations of the disease, plague. It would be like having the main article for a disease being neurosyphilis or cutaneous anthrax. I could personally work on the article, possibly to the point that it could be split into articles for the different manifestations as well.
Although I would like to see it named "Plague" with a separate disambiguation, I think "Plague (disease)" is a good idea until a consensus can be reached. Bubonic is not the proper name for this disease, if you read any medical textbook it is known simply as "plague" much like "anthrax".
Are there any objections to renaming?

cyclosarin (talk) 04:45, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Just like to add that there seems to be little room for the other 2 variants, and the article itself seems to be confused whether it is about bubonic plague or plague. Plague could be a full article with links to articles on the 3 variants and the pandemics. Also the disambiguation page is pretty limited, most links either refer to plague itself, general articles or pop culture references, none of which really deserve to have a direct link. I'd like to re-propose a move from Bubonic Plague to Plague since plague is the official name, not "bubonic plague" which seems to be a misconception. cyclosarin (talk) 04:57, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Use of the word virulent?[edit]

The article uses the word virulent to describe the strains found in marmots: "Bubonic plague is primarily a disease of rodents, particularly marmots (in which the most virulent strains of plague are primarily found)..." To avoid confusion about the infectious agent being a virus, I suggest changing virulent to pathogenic.--Bjorn1101 15:44, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

According to the virulent article, "Virulence is either the relative pathogenicity or the relative ability to do damage to the host of an infectious agent. The term is used mainly for viruses, but it can be more generally applied to parasites or bacteria. From an ecological point of view, virulence can be defined as the host's parasite induced loss of fitness." It goes on to define Virulent bacteriophage, Virulent bacteria and Virulent virus.
The statement "...the most virulent strains of plague..." uses "virulent" in the sense of how malicious the bubonic plague bacteria is, ie: its ability to do damage.
Yet "pathogenicity" seems to be an equivalent synonym for "virulence", so either term is technically correct, but you do have a point in "pathogenic" being more objective by not bearing any implication of a "virus". If you want to change it don't hesitate—I don't think anyone will object given this discussion. Arbo 14:26, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Death tolls[edit]

I notice that this article claims a 200 million-person death toll from the Black Death, whereas by contrast, the Black Death article claims a 34 million-person death toll. The factor of six separating these two is suspicious; where are we getting these numbers from? Ryan Reich 19:36, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

This article had 237 million until someone changed it to 1.2 million (a ridiculously low figure) without explanation. There has been confusion ever since. I've restored the 237 million figure, because no one ever said what was wrong with it. However, other figures in the article seem to add up to less than half that, while the Black Death article currently says "at least 75 million". Can someone find some reputable sources to clear this up? Metamagician3000 09:57, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

237 Million is incredibly overinflated: The TOTAL population of Europe was likely less than this at the time, though obviously no good statistics exist. However, the total population of England at the time was only 4.2 million, with an estimated 1.4 million infected. According to a history book of mine, McKay-Hill Buckler's 'A History of Western Society,' "no estimates of population losses have ever been attempted for Russia and the Balkans." Thus, really it's not appropriate for such an absolute figure to be cited in an encyclopedia article; academic estimates seemingly always give only a percentage of European population and even these vary from 1/4th to 2/3rds. As such, I'm removing this very incorrect number and leaving the percentage... feel free to tweak it, but 237 million is absolutely ridiculous --The Way 08:16, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Why does everyone seem to be assuming that the pandemic was restricted to Europe and the Near East. The disease apparently spread from the foothills of the Himalayas via established overland trade routes to Europe. Besides striking Europe, the plague hit China, India, Southeast Asia, and the steppes. A world-wide death toll greater than 150 million is not beyond reason Wuf0170 19:14, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Historical Epidemics[edit]

"The first Western literary account of a possible outbreak of plague is found in the book of I

Samuel 5:6 of the Hebrew Bible." To me, describing the Hebrew Bible as "Western" seems odd. Although it is a foundation of Western culture, civilization, etc etc, it originated in the Middle East. A formulation such as "The earliest literary account, familiar to the West, describing a possible outbreat etc etc" would seem to be a better way of formulating it. Otherwise, this is a very interesting and informative article; sorry to carp about such trivia.

Perhaps there should be a mention of the "wind of plague" that Apollo blows upon the Greeks in the Iliad :"Pack animals were his target first, and dogs / but soldiers, too, soon felt transfixing pain from his hard shots, / and pyres burned night and day.”". See e.g. .

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was don't move. —Nightstallion (?) Seen this already? 08:20, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Bubonic plaguePlague – The article describes the disease plague, created by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, of which bubonic plague is just one form; the other two most common being pneumonic plague and septicemic plague, which currently are redirected to bubonic plague (In total, there are actually eight forms of plague). CDC, WHO and other authorities call the disease only "plague", giving it the IDC-9 and IDC-10 code A20. See [4], [5] and [6]. Similarily, all the other Wikipedias (except the Danish) also only calls it "plague" in their various languages. I can see no reason why English Wikipedia should take a different position.

Plague is currently a disambiguation page to which the also existing Plague (disambiguation) redirects, but it would be better to move the Plague disambiguation content to Plague (disambiguation), and then move the content of Bubonic plague to Plague with a redirect from Bubonic plague - and of course also change the redirects of Pneumonic plague and Septicemic plague the same way. The article would, of course, also need some minor adjustments to reflect the fact that the disease is known as plague, and that bubonic plague is just one form of it. However, to a large extent the article already does this, which makes it even more confusing in its current form Thomas Blomberg 22:06, 5 April 2006 (UTC)


Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one-sentence explanation, then sign your opinion with ~~~~
  • Oppose -- Plague is a generalized term, which can include many diseases, while Bubonic plague -- a distinct name for a distinct disease -- should be retained as it is in Smallpox & Typhus. WBardwin 06:35, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- for basically the same reasons as User:WBardwin plus my comments below. John (Jwy) 23:27, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose I think it's better to be specific, plague could be all sorts of things, this one is the bubonic one. Gryffindor 18:50, 6 April 2006 (UTC)


Add any additional comments
  • The intention of the original editors on "Plague" (including me) was to talk about human contagion as a whole and the impact plagues have on the human condition and the evolution of society. We also wanted to make the distinction between Bubonic plague and other diseases which may be referred to as plagues, a generalized term. I acknowledge that little progress has been made in the past few months, but my Wiki time is very limited at the moment. Bubonic plague -- a distinct name for a distinct disease -- should be retained as it is in articles on Smallpox, Typhus, and other conditions which cause epidemics. Please see discussion pages on Plague and List of Bubonic plague outbreaks. WBardwin 22:33, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree with the above and would add that I disagree with I can see no reason why English Wikipedia should take a different position. The languages are different so the use of the word may be different. I think keeping the disease(s) separate from the "social" phenomenon is a useful thing. I believe some changes need to be made: we have an article on the disease itself, discussions of plague as a social phenomenon and specfic plagues (like Black Death) and these should be more clearly delineated, but I don't think a merge as suggested is the way to go. John (Jwy) 23:31, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Bubonic plague is NOT a specific disease, but one of eight variants of the specific disease that is officially and medically named plague, i.e. the disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. This is the position of the WHO, the CDC and all other medical authorities, and I can't see why English Wikipedia should take a different position. This horrible disease has eventually come to lend its name to other terrible things, and the word is thus often used to mean any "disease that spreads very rapidly, infecting very large numbers of people and killing a great many of them, or an outbreak of such a disease" or "the appearance of something harmful or annoying in abnormally large numbers" or even "an affliction or annoying person". However, some of these other meanings are already covered in the disambiguation page currently named Plague, while this article deals with the disease that have given birth to those other meanings. Because of its heading, the Bubonic plague article is quite confusing for the readers. It tries to claim that bubonic plague is a specific disease, but at the same time the text makes it obvious that it is just one variant of the disease - and any readers checking the included WHO and CDC links will find that these authorities call the disease simply "plague". I can't see why it would be wrong to head the article Plague, and under the heading have the usual Wikipedia disambiguation message: For other meanings of the word "plague", see Plague (disambiguation). Basically, this is no different from the Wikipedia treatment of many words and expressions with several possible meanings, like Police, Car or House. Thomas Blomberg 10:57, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
I would suggest, then, Plague (disease) should cover the eight variants. Plague (pestilence) (I'm not sure of the qualifier) could cover the historical, sociolological phenomena. I'm not sure which one of those would "qualify" as the primary "Plague" article. John (Jwy) 14:27, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Removed the following vandalism:

"Dylan purdy is a jew who has Mr.Smutka at his feet begging for a BJ. Dylan says no and non-regretably chops his head off and laughs with a vicious laugh.Then dylan trips and falls off a cliff with ease. he tumbles down to a hunter who stalks him with a duck call and a deer head he will lead you on a chase and you will get shot in the back with an arrow and at his last moments of life he will meet a singing fish. How Stupid!!" Maeve 17:31, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Current Event[edit]

Anyone know what current event the editor Tarpy was referring to in the edit on 14:55, 19 April 2006? An outbreak? WBardwin 00:14, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

He's referring to an outbreak in Congo in February. I found a Wikinews link to it at the bottom of the artice, among the external links. However, the anonomous and rather new user Tarpy is obvioysly unaware of the purpose of the template, which only should be used for news material that is rapidly changing (see Template talk:Current. He/she has recently also added it to Reef triggerfish and George H. Ryan. I have now remved it from this article, but have instead moved the Wikinews link to the top, where it makes sense. Thomas Blomberg 11:13, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
but it's February 05, if I'm not mistaken. How long should we leave it up? WBardwin 11:16, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
You're right. It's been at the bottom of the page for more than a year. I just hadn't noticed it before and assumed it had been added recently (didn't look clesely enough at the date). I've just checked the WHO Desease Outbreak News, and it seems that they regarded the outbreak to have been contained by mid March 2005. So, I'll remove the Wikinews link and instead add a short text about the Congo outbreak being the latest reported. Thomas Blomberg 11:34, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Discrepancy with Peloponnesian War article[edit]

In the article Peloponnesian War, it states that the plague was instrumental in the loss of Athens in the "Archidamian War", while this article states, and I quote; "The loss of population did not affect the progress and outcome of the war." The sources of this article and others are obviously different, and I am unsure which is in the wrong, as I am not well versed in history, period. Just a heads up.

Linking this article to the disambig page[edit]

Hi, WBardwin. As suggested in you comment on my user page I post my reply here, to the benefit of everyone. The reason I removed the link to the Plague disambig page under "Overview", which Giftlite added on 10 May, was that it confuses the readers. The article is about the decease and the paragraph containing the link is only about the decease, so why should a link there take people to a page dealing with other meanings of the word plague (like the plagues of Egypt)? Also, there is already a link to the disambig page under "See also".

In your comment say that "I realize you may not agree with the editors' concensus to stick with bubonic plague as the name of the article but there are other English uses of the word plague. That is why we have the disambig page and the other Plague article in process."

Well, first of all I'm not arguing about that right now, although I think the suggestion by John (Jwy) above, to rename the article Plague (disease), would be the best solution, as the subject of the article is the specific disease which is medically known as plague (obviously its variants Bubonic plague, Septicemic plague and Pneumonic plague would redirect to it).

Secondly, I wonder which editors you are referring to? There are a number of people contributing to this article, and they are all "the editors" (me included), and looking at the discussions, both here and under Black Death and List of Bubonic plague outbreaks (which is actually a list of historical epidemics and pandemics caused by a variety of diseases), it is obvious that there are several editors who share my views. Also, your reference to "the other plague article in progress" is somewhat confusing, as you link it to the disambig page. I know from the discussions a year ago under List of Bubonic plague outbreaks that you talked about doing an article called "Plague and Human History", (which perhaps would be better titled "Epidemics/Pandemics and Human History"), so I guess that is the one you're referring to. However, it doesn't exist in any form yet, so I don't quite understand your reference to it. In all friendliness. Thomas Blomberg 23:24, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Thomas Blomberg, "the editors" are those who voted on the suggestion to change the article name, as well as those who come here but did not vote. That, of course, included you. Concensus kept the present name. I'm not committed to the present name so much against the use of "Plague" alone or even Plague (medical). I believe either would be confusing and historically inaccurate. "Plague" has had and still has varying uses in the English language, even though the medical establishment has, quite lately, adopted the term for this disease in all its various guises. The word has been used to describe epidemics of various types throughout history. And it is commonly, if perhaps inaccurately, used in today's media in presentations dealing with the AIDS epidemic. From an educated medical perspective, plague=Plague, but I would suspect that the average reader still uses plague=epidemic disease, and they would not be incorrect. And so, even Plague (medical) would not have clear meaning. As for the proposed article on Plague=social aspects of epidemic disease, I still think that it is a viable socio-history oriented article and an important addition to this and other epidemic disease articles. It's just a matter of how much time is available to write!
My concern is that we find some way to allow the reader who arrives here to easily find the disambig page as well. Part of Wiki's objective is to allow people to find their topic, and then move on to more information whether in other Wiki articles or web/paper references. It may not be what the reader wanted when they arrived at this article, but it would serve the same function as the other Wiki links included in the article -- to move around Wiki to find more information on this topic, related topics, and serendipitous topics. If we said "...for other uses of the word plague, see....," or something similar, that would be fine with me (although it could be awkward). Or, a few sentences early in the article could discuss the modern medical use of the word "plague," when, why and who established that usage, and then refer the reader to the disambig for other, longer established uses of the word. Defining terms early in an article is valuable, no matter what the topic. So, what would you and the other "editors" suggest to best provide that link? WBardwin 01:40, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
If the article was called Plague (disease), it would both be correct and also no risk for any confusion, as this, in Wikipedia terminology, means that there is a specific disease called Plague. Also, with that heading, it would be natural to have a disambig text at the top, leading people to the other meanings of the word. You say that from "an educated medical perspective" it is correct that plague is a specific disease, but that you suspect that the average reader still sees plague as meaning any kind of epidemic disease. Sure, but one of the main points of Wikipieda is to inform people about these things, and a short sentence in the beginning of the article could explain this (however, it makes no sense inserting such a sentence as long as the article is called Bubonic plague).
Wikipedia tries to give articles proper names, even if those are unfamiliar to people. This is especially true when it comes to medicine. If you search for the dreadful disease commonly known as Guinea Worm Disease, you're redirected to its proper medical name: Dracunculiasis. If you search for German measles, you end up at Rubella, and if you search for Infantile paralysis, you end up at Poliomyelitis. That's the beauty of redirects: people can search for something, using a term they are familiar with, and be led to the correct term. There is no risk that someone would actually type "Plague (disease)" if he/she wants to have general knowledge about epidemics, as who would even think of writing something so complex? He/she would type "Plague" and end up at the disambig page, and would there find out that the word has several different meanings, and be given a selection of articles to choose from. And if he/she types in "Bubonic plague", he/she would end up at "Plague (disease)", which the top would have a link to the disambig page, and already in the first sentence would explain that the best known variant of this disease is bubonic plague. There would be no confusion and it would be medically correct. As for your last suggestion, that the article should contain something about the modern medical use of the word "plague," when, why and who established that usage, I'm fine with that. As far as I know, it has been the established English medical term for several hundred years, as the medical profession very early on realised that bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic plague were all the same disease with different symptoms. It seems that some physicians during the time of the Black Death tried to introduce the word pestilence for the disease, from its Latin name pestis. Unfortunately it never caught on (and can now mean any disease causing serious epidemics), as that would have kept it apart from the biblical term. Thomas Blomberg 14:37, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Just chiming in to second the plague (disease) recommendation. I typed in pneumonic plague to add some info on the ongoing outbreak in the DRC, using a news article that makes an explicit distinction between it and bubonic plague, and was very confused to be forced to add the info under a bubonic plague title. This is not my normal editing hunting grounds but, if it comes up for a straw poll again, please count me for a move. - BT 19:46, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Untreated septicemic plague is universally fatal, but early treatment with antibiotics reduces the mortality rate to 4 to 15%.

Is 4% to 15% not an increase? Is this just a typo?

  • I'm guessing this intended to mean "reduces the mortality rate to between 4 and 15%". ElectricRay 22:30, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Treatment effectiveness[edit]

There is a section mentioning mortality rates, then in the "treatment" section it should say: How effective are the different treatments that are listed? What are the mortality rates and complication rates? Tempshill 03:56, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Great Plague of London[edit]

Why the adddition of the London specific information? Not really applicable to the disease article itself, and significant alterations in the article have been made. Possible vandalism -- see version 17:05, 8 November 2006 by Wouterstomp for previous versions of the article. Believe the material should be removed, and the article reverted, if no one has major objections. Will revert. WBardwin 04:47, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Bubonic bacteria is thought to have killed about one third of the population in Asia[edit]

I removed this uncited statement because it clearly does not refer to the Third Pandemic, which is "only" claimed to have killed "12 million people in India and China alone", certainly not 1.3 of Asia. It may relate to previous pandemics, which may or may not have been bubonic plague of some sort.--Grahamec 04:44, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

innacurate statistic[edit]

"it is estimated that 1.4 percent of England's population, totaling 4.2 million ..."

This is in the first paragraph of "Black death". Certainly, England's population never reached 300 million during the Black death or at any other time in history. Is the statistic supposed to be "1/4 of the English population, totaling 4.2 million"?


I removed: "In Europe, the plague was thought to be spread by cats, so the Europeans killed all of the cats, which eventually made the plague spread even more" from the Justinian section. I think this probably came from a British TV program about the Great Plague of London, based on the received wisdom, but it is unsourced. The comment that the killing of cats caused the plague to spread faster, might make sense, if the Black Death was spread by rats (which is not supported by evidence, in my view), but there is no contemporary evidence for it.--Grahamec 07:28, 15 December 2006 (UTC) There is a section in Defoe's "Journal of a plague year" “Therefore were we ordered to kill all the dogs and cats, but because as they were domestic animals, and are apt to run from house to house and from street to street, so they are capable of carrying the effluvia or infectious streams of bodies infected even in their furs and hair. And therefore it was that, in the beginning of the infection, an order was published by the Lord Mayor, and by the magistrates, according to the advice of the physicians, that all the dogs and cats should be immediately killed, and an officer was appointed for the execution”. “It is incredible; if their account is to be depended upon, what a prodigious number of those creatures were destroyed. I think they talked of forty thousand dogs, and five times as many cats; few houses being without a cat, some having several, sometimes five or six in a house. All possible endeavours were used also to destroy the mice and rats, especially the latter, by laying ratsbane and other poisons for them, and a prodigious multitude of them were also destroyed”.

Name of picture wrong[edit]

why is the bicture of the Yersinia pestis entitled "Green Glow Stick in Motion"? that just seems wrong. it looks like it was changed here [7] and then again immediately afterwards. --MirrorSword 02:55, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Mortality rate confused with survival rate?[edit]

Previous statement was that untreated bubonic plague has a mortality rate less than 10%. I believe this writer intended "a survival rate of less than 10%". Edited to reflect information from the links cited, WHO and CDC, that untreated bubonic plague has a mortality rate of 50-90%. Or perhaps the previous writer intended that treated plague had a mortality of less than 10%? Unimaginative Username 04:09, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

About vectors[edit]

Why does the article say the most common way to contract the disease is to be bitten by an infected rodent? I think it's pretty clear that it's the intermediate vector, the flea, that is responsible for transmitting the plague from rats to humans. That appears to be pretty well established in the first part of the article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Graehill (talkcontribs) 04:12, 8 May 2007 (UTC).

Unit 731 and genetic engineering[edit]

I think the word choice is incorrect: genetic engineering implies either introducing a piece of DNA from one lifeform into another, (or making this up from scratch,) or deleting or inserting purposefully pieces of DNA. This was clearly not possible during and before WW II so the `genetic engineering' would have been `(artificial) selection', i.e. breeding and selecting as Mendel understood it. But that's already covered by the earlier mention of breeding antibiotics resistence into them (where resistence is an aim and selection a method, so there is a difference). I have not changed anything as I don't know what the original author wanted to say.

No pathology[edit]

Am I missing anything or is there not a single word in the article about the pathology of the disease? Symptoms? What it actually does to patients? how it presents and manifests?--Cancun771 22:03, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Masque of the Red Death[edit]

I don't mean to be a pain; I've already mentioned this on the Black Death article. But, Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" has generally been accepted to refer to tuberculosis, so I'm requesting a source that says it is "conventionally agreed" to be Bubonic plague. If you do find a source, I'd love to add that info to the section in the "Red Death" article that discusses the disease. Thanks! --Midnightdreary 16:28, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

I'm requesting the same for the "Don't Fear the Reaper" reference. Buck Dharma has stated that he just plucked the 40,000 figure out of the air and that it doesn't actually refer to anything. BrianFG 21:11, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Can you guys put symptoms?[edit]

Can you guys put symptoms of it here? Punkymonkey987 14:59, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Needs more focus on medical science[edit]

For anyone with the time and knowledge: this article has a good section on history and world impact but is severely lacking in medical science. Symptoms, tests, etc. Arbitrarily picking articles clostridium difficile and strep throat have more medical science than this article does and I'd like to see similar information here. Cburnett 06:14, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

im bored oh ya oh ya mama== More aspects of Bubonic plague needed ==

(This page could use more information on if handling corpses from bubonic plague could cause the spread of the disease form person to person. Also what about listing misconceptions people had about the bubonic plague in various cultures)-random person researching a paper . —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:04, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Anyone is free to edit. If you find that information, feel free to add it (with references, of course). Mark Chovain 02:40, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

D: This is really related to the Black Death =o —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:59, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Requested move (2)[edit]

I'd like to propose that the article be moved to "Plague" or "Plague (disease)" for the reasons outlined above after Naming (again) and in the original proposal.

Please comment on the idea and/or which option is more suitable. If the article is moved to Plague (disease) I can edit it a little and make sub pages for the three types. If it is moved to Plague, which I think might be better, the current page becomes disambiguation and we should probably add a second link to the article, pestilence.


This page is about the bacterial infection. For a more general disease outbreak, see Pestilence.
For other uses, see Plague (disambiguation).

I think this would be best in the long run, I hope to help to get the article up to featured status. - cyclosarin (talk) 06:05, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

  • Oppose when people say plague, as in a plague it is not necessarily this one, and even if it is yersinia, it could be pneumonic plague, which is also referred to as the plague. (talk) 07:09, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
But this article is not specifically about bubonic plague, it's about plague in general; hence the history and outbreaks. Bubonic plague wasn't the sole manifestation in historical pandemics, it was an epidemic of yersinia pestis infections, collectively known as plague. Until I created them yesterday, pneumonic and septicemic plague redirected here, which is completely inappropriate. Bubonic plague should have its own article as well, which can't be done when the main article is in the wrong place. - cyclosarin (talk) 08:18, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
This article is definitely not about plagues in general. The opening summary says it's about yersinia's nodule version. Perhaps you should do a split, instead of requesting a move. (talk) 22:32, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Fair point, but I considered it more of a move because I would be physically moving and editing the contents of this article and starting a new Bubonic Plague article. cyclosarin (talk) 22:57, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Consider the German (Featured) version, where the article is simply named "Pest" (plague) with the different types under sub-headings in the first sections. - cyclosarin (talk) 08:43, 16 March 2008 (UTC)


Would everyone be happier if this was considered a "split" rather than a "move"? I have already started pneumonic and septicemic articles, and I would be happy to start the new bubonic plague article and redistribute the content from this one.

I think the new main page should be Plague since it is currently only a minor disambiguation page, especially if the main article links to pestilence as I previously suggested. cyclosarin (talk) 01:07, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Is everyone okay with splitting it then? Because if so, I can finish that now and get to work on the four articles. cyclosarin (talk) 05:18, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
I say go ahead, and create the plague (disease) article from a pslit. (talk) 06:22, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Will do, we can leave the naming debate for another time. cyclosarin (talk) 06:29, 19 March 2008 (UTC)


Once this merge proposal is settled and everything's stable, I think someone ought to propose this article for WP:GA. I'd be surprised if it didn't pass easily. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:38, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Nature of the disease - speed of transmission[edit]

The following looks to me like it is backwards. I would think the Balck death would have moved much more slowly in 664 than the modern plague. "very different transmission speeds — the Black Death was reported to have spread 385 km in 91 days in 664, compared to 12-15 km a year for the modern Bubonic Plague, with the assistance of trains and cars" dfortini 06:32, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

I think the argument being made is: "You would expect plague to spread more quickly in modern times than in ancient times, but the opposite happened, therefore they must be different diseases". Wardog (talk) 15:32, 25 November 2008 (UTC)


I think Y. pestis sould be linked to this as it causes plague —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rynosaur (talkcontribs) 22:19, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Yersinia pestis has an article on her own. — EJ (talk) 11:26, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

Epidemic of pneumonic plague in Ukraine? November 2nd 2009[edit]

A closed meeting has been held in Ivano-Frankivsk, at which participants agreed that epidemic of the so-called "pneumonic plague" is being spread throughout Ukraine. But the problem is its form is unknown, it is ATYPICAL nobody knows how to treat it. more information here

PlasticShark (talk) 06:05, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

A look at the web site above shows no confirmation of Plague, but reports on a widespread outbreak of disease with pneumonia based symptoms. Possibility is high that this is the Swine flu variant. Until further news, it seems unlikely that the outbreak is related to this article. WBardwin (talk) 23:09, 2 November 2009 (UTC)


This doesn't make sense:

"very different transmission speeds — the Black Death was reported to have spread 385 km in 91 days in 664, compared to 12–15 km a year for the modern Bubonic Plague, with the assistance of trains and cars" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:06, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Makes perfect sense to me. Could you elaborate your objection?—Emil J. 11:06, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Removing [dubious ] tag[edit]

Please see here for a list of some fairly notable people who died of the plague, including Royalty and Nobility- Category:Deaths from bubonic plague eg Ali az-Zahir, a Caliph, and Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, heir presumptive to Richard II of England. Brendandh (talk) 14:47, 22 April 2010 (UTC) (talk) 18:03, 3 November 2010 (UTC) Just finished reading 2005 book where this issue is discussed at length. Problem exists. Scientists debate. No definative source, no info on pre historical. Furhther analysis done in 2010 as on Wiki yersenia pestis page says definately source of both epidemics. Also see Wiki camel and posting of reference to 2005 notice from Saudi Arabia avoid eating camel liver as contains Yersenia Pestis. Source: possibly Asian marmots, and the Nova tv special examining the 48 year population explosion of rats feeding on the death-flowering of bamboo would seem an ideal canidate as the rats could have sufficient energy (high protein food) to overflow the valley and spread down to the Ganges delta. Quote from internet source: The bamboo species Melocanna baccifera grows over a large area of Northeast India, primarily in the states of Mizoram and Manipur. It blooms approximately every 48 years, resulting in a human tragedy coinciding with the flowering of this species. Bamboo blossoms produce a fruit packed with protein and other nutrients. Rats feed on the fruits and seeds, and their population increases. After the supply of bamboo seeds and fruits are exhausted, the rats turn to human food sources – invade farms and villages devouring all the crops, and food stored in granaries, resulting in famine. Historically, this phenomenon has lasted for about 3 years, till the rats run out of food. It costs the lives and livelihood of thousands of people. The locals call it ‘Mautam’ or ‘Bamboo death’. Recently it occurred between 2005 and 2007. (talk) 18:03, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Conflict with another article[edit]

Another article, Plague vaccine, contradicts this one—here as well as the Yersinia pestis article here. The vaccine article says "There is strong evidence for the efficacy of administration of some plague vaccines in preventing or ameliorating the effects of ... infection ..." whereas this one says "Currently there is no vaccine against the Plague." The Yersinia pestis article says there once was a vaccine ages ago but it didn't really work so now there isn't and experimental development for a new one found it no good for green monkeys. The contradict-tag on the vaccine article points to this talkpage as its own is inactive. Thanks. (talk) 21:37, 8 June 2011 (UTC)


The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. I'll note that moving to The plague as suggested is an interesting option. Vegaswikian (talk) 02:35, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Plague (disease)Plague

  • WP:PRIMARYTOPIC (with Plague (disambiguation) Brandmeister t 01:02, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • And Plague to Plague (disambiguation). The disease may be the original meaning, but is it still the dominant meaning? Anthony Appleyard (talk) 05:55, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Haven't looked at the page view stats and so on, but it looks like the disease would be the clear primary topic to me. Jenks24 (talk) 06:28, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Googling plague -wikipedia suggests the specific disease is the thing people are looking up. The other common meaning is "epidemic." "Plague" seems like something that should get a "major topic" style title. Kauffner (talk) 09:55, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose, though I'd support a move to The Plague. "Plague" in general too often refers to any epidemic or disease. Powers T 13:44, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. The disease is clearly the primary meaning of the word, and most if not all of the items on the disambiguation page are oblique—or not so oblique—references the the disease, or outbreaks like the disease. •••Life of Riley (TC) 01:23, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose plague meaning epidemic in general is highly relevant, so it is better to have a disambiguation page. (talk) 09:47, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Picture magnification claim is wrong?[edit]

The bacteria's picture on the top right of the article claims it is 200x magnification. Can this possibly be correct? Even ignoring that it's not clear what this number means when the picture will have a different size on every monitor... But on my screen it looks about 5cm long, so the original bacteria is supposed to be 0.25mm, or 250 micron long? shows a scaled picture of other rod-shaped germs, and shows their lengths to be merely 10 micron long. So either I'm making some sort of calculation mistake here, or the claim of "200x" is completely mistaken. Nyh (talk) 09:26, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Confusing Wording[edit]

Could this be cleaned up by whoever wrote it, because I have read through it multiple times and know what it means ultimately, but the wording could be improved significantly It is found under 'Epidemiology and distribution':

"Contrary to popular belief, rats did not directly start the spread of the bubonic plague. It is mainly a disease in the fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis) that infested the rats, making the rats themselves the first victims of the plague. Infection in a human occurs when a person is bitten by a flea that has been infected by biting a rodent that itself has been infected by the bite of a flea carrying the disease." MarkoPolo56 (talk) 21:12, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Rats are not the spreaders of disease but fleas. Once plague has set in it is useless to cull rats, and in fact better to keep them, as fleas prefer rat and will choose them over human if available. Many other animals carry plague, including fleas, cats, squirrels and mice. So maybe change that?

My source: At Home, by Bill Bryson, pages 261-262 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dasyuridae (talkcontribs) 06:07, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

A few observation on the article[edit]

The article states:

Yersinia pestis circulates in animal reservoirs, particularly in rodents, in the natural foci of infection found on all continents except Australia.

This is clearly wrong as Antarctica is a further exception.

The article states:

This makes the Black Death the largest death toll from any known non-viral epidemic

How does it compare with malaria or aids?

The article states:

• very different transmission speeds — the Black Death was reported to have spread 385 km in 91 days (4.23 km/day) in 664, compared to 12–15 km a year for the modern bubonic plague, with the assistance of trains and cars

Could a common unit be used such as km/day so that a comparison could be more easily made?

The article states:

• On August 2, 2009, Chinese authorities quarantined the town of Ziketan, Xinghai County in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province (Northwestern China) after an outbreak of pneumonic plague. As of this writing, three have died and ten more are ill, being treated in hospital.[90]

Could this be updated? (talk) 11:22, 31 March 2014 (UTC)