Saturday, 10 May 2014

Black Death skeletons give up secrets of life and death

READ MOREThe medieval Black Death led to better health for future generations, according to an analysis of skeletons in London cemeteries. Tens of millions of people died in the epidemic, but their descendants lived longer and had better health than ever before, a study shows. The Black Death was one of the most devastating epidemics in human history. But survivors benefited from rising standards of living and better diets in the aftermath of the disaster. The improvements in health only occurred because of the death of huge numbers of people, said a US scientist. It is evidence of how infectious disease has the power to shape patterns of health in populations, said Dr Sharon DeWitte of South Carolina University. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote Even in the face of major threats to health, such as repeated plague outbreaks, several generations of people who lived after the Black Death were healthier in general than people who lived before the epidemic” Dr Sharon DeWitte University of South Carolina Lumps and black spots The Black Death killed 30-to-50% of the European population in the 14th Century, causing terror as victims broke out in lumps and black spots, then died within days. The elderly and the sick were most at risk of catching the bacterial infection, which was probably spread through sneezes and coughs, according to the latest theory. The outbreak had a huge impact on society, leaving villages to face starvation, with no workers left to plough the fields or bring in the harvest. However, despite analysis of historical records, little is known about the general health and death rates of the population, before and after the disease struck.

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