Study shows rats might be off the hook for the Black Death

Brown rat sniffing groundNew research suggests that rats may not have caused the deadly spread of the plague in the Middle Ages, after all.

Academics in Norway and Italy have identified a more likely culprit for the Black Death, which claimed tens of millions of lives in the 14th century.

The researchers — at the universities of Oslo in Norway and Ferrara in Italy — blame body lice and human fleas for the pandemic.

They reached their conclusions after gathering mortality data from nine plague outbreaks across Europe between the 14th and 19th centuries to create computer model.

Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The Black Death, which swept across Europe in the 14th century, killed more than 50 million people, according to World Health Organization estimates.

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