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Black Death’s ancient origins traced to lake in Central Asia


BERLIN (AP) — Scientists in Europe say they have figured out the origins of the Black Death, a bacterial plague that wiped out half of the continent’s population in the 14th century. They found genetic fingerprints of the bacterium Yersinia pestis that causes the disease in individuals who had been buried with tombstones referring to a “pestilence” at a site by Lake Issyk Kul, in what is now Kyrgyzstan. The findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature counter other theories that the disease might have first emerged in China. The disease is spread by rats and their fleas, and it is known to have eventually made its way to the Sicilian port of Messina on trade ships arriving from the Black Sea in 1347.

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