The plague a Middle Ages' issue? Not al all.

Date: 5 February 2018

Introduction: The disease still makes thousands of victims every year, Herwig Leirs tells in Gazet van Antwerpen.

“The plague occurs everywhere in the world, except for Australia and Europe”, Herwig Leirs explains. Not in the proportions anymore that Europe witnessed centuries ago (when one-third of the European population died), but still.

“Even in the USA there are still about 10 cases a year. The most important outbreaks occur in African countries, for example Madagascar, Congo and Tanzania.” Usually outbreaks are limited. The plague can nowadays be efficiently treated with antibiotics, and is rapidly recognized by trained medical personnel. But sometimes larger outbreaks can occur, like in Madagascar in 2017, where 2417 people were inflicted, 209 of which did not survive the disease.

“Pest is spread among humans by fleas of pets or people. If the bubonic plague is transferred through the blood to the lungs, pneumonic plague can develop. This is more rapidly transmitted. If one breathes blood drops coughed up by a patient, one can immediately develop pneumonic plague.”

It’s a certainty that the plague will show up again. Herwig: “The question is not whether, but when. It’s good to be aware of that, and to be prepared. Usually the disease is confined to very local communities, but we do actually not really know why.”

The full interview is available at (Dutch).