Document Detail

Biological warfare at the 1346 siege of Caffa.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12194776     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
On the basis of a 14th-century account by the Genoese Gabriele de' Mussi, the Black Death is widely believed to have reached Europe from the Crimea as the result of a biological warfare attack. This is not only of great historical interest but also relevant to current efforts to evaluate the threat of military or terrorist use of biological weapons. Based on published translations of the de' Mussi manuscript, other 14th-century accounts of the Black Death, and secondary scholarly literature, I conclude that the claim that biological warfare was used at Caffa is plausible and provides the best explanation of the entry of plague into the city. This theory is consistent with the technology of the times and with contemporary notions of disease causation; however, the entry of plague into Europe from the Crimea likely occurred independent of this event.
Mark Wheelis
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Historical Article; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Emerging infectious diseases     Volume:  8     ISSN:  1080-6040     ISO Abbreviation:  Emerging Infect. Dis.     Publication Date:  2002 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-08-26     Completed Date:  2002-11-25     Revised Date:  2013-06-09    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9508155     Medline TA:  Emerg Infect Dis     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  971-5     Citation Subset:  IM    
Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Microbiology, University of California, Davis, California 95616-8664, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Biological Warfare / history*
Disease Outbreaks / history*
Europe / epidemiology
History, Medieval
Literature, Medieval / history
Middle East / epidemiology
Plague / epidemiology,  history*,  transmission

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