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Bubonic Plague Timeline

430 B.C.: During the second year of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides writes about a disease that is believed to have been the Plague (some scholars believe it was smallpox). He says that it began in Ethiopa and passed through Egypt and Libya before devastating Greece. A third of the population of Athens dies.

540 A.D.: An outbreak of Plague occurs at Pelusium, Egypt.

542 A.D. Plague reaches Constantinople.

1334: Plague occurs in Constantinople, then spreads throughout Europe.

1345: Plague occurs in the lower Volga River basin.

1347: Plague again reaches Constantinople.

Fall 1347: It reaches Alexandria, Cyprus, and Sicily.

Winter 1347: Reaches Italy.

Jan. 1348: Reaches France and Germany.

May 1349: Reaches Norway.

1350: Reaches Eastern Europe.

Sept. 1348: The Plague reaches London.

1349: The Plague reaches Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

1351: Reaches Russia.

1353: Giovanni Boccaccio finishes writing The Decameron, a fictional narrative that opens with a description of the 1348 outbreak of Black Death in Florence, Italy.

May 1665: The Great Plague of London begins, with 43 people dying of plague by May.

June 1665: 6,137 people die by June.

July 1665: 17,036 people die by July.

Aug. 1665: 31,159 people die by August.

1666: The Great Fire of London destroys most of the rats and fleas that carry the plague bacillus.

1679: The plague devastates central Europe. There is a small outbreak in England - the last outbreak England will ever see.

1711: Plague breaks out in Austria.

1722: Daniel Defoe publishes A Journal of the Plague Year, a fictional recounting of the great Plague of London in 1665.

1770: The Balkans battle the Plague for two years.

1855: A major pandemic, known as the Third Pandemic, begins in China and spreads throughout the world, with China and India affected the most. Overall, this pandemic brings death to more than 12 million people.

1877: The pandemic flares up again in Russia, China, and India.

1889: The Third Pandemic finally comes to an end.

1894: Working independently, bacteriologists Alexandre Yersin and Shibasaburo Kitasato both isolate the bacterium that causes bubonic Plague. Yersin discovers that rodents are the mode of infection. The bacterium is named Yersinia pestis after Yersin.

1896: The pandemic in China and India is over.

1900: Outbreaks of Plague occur in Portugal and Australia.

1910: In Manchuria, 60,000 people die due to pneumonic Plague over the course of a year.

1920: Again in Manchuria, about 60,000 people die of Plague.

1947: Albert Camus publishes The Plague, a novel about a fictional outbreak of plague in Oran, Algeria.

Summer 1994: 5,000 cases of pneumonic Plague occur in Surat, India, killing approximately 100 people.

Sept. 2005: Three mice infected with Bubonic Plague disappear from a laboratory at the Public Health Research Institute on the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

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