JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Spanish Jesuit Father Petrus Martinius and his brothers nursing and burying plague victims (1564). Pandemics of bubonic plague occurred in 542 and between 1346 & 1353, when a quarter of the population of Europe died. Further outbreaks occurred in Venice in 1487, Milan in the early 1500s, London in 1665 and Marseille in 1720. Extensive control measures, directed against rats as well as their fleas which carry the disease organism (Yersinia pestis), have essentially banished the plague from Europe. However there are still many regions of the world where the disease occurs and, at intervals, breaks out in an epidemic.
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