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Bacteria that caused horror in 17th-century London identified

Applying DNA testing on teeth, scientists have identified the bacteria that induced the Great Plague in 17th-century London.

The identification process relied on the teeth of plague victims whose remains were unearthed in London’s Bedlam burial ground. The site, which was used from 1569 to the 1730s as a cemetery, was discovered due to the construction of the Crossrail train line.

The analysis of the teeth of 20 subjects revealed that all of them were infected with Yersinia pestis, the bacteria which is responsible for bubonic plague. This is the first time the plague DNA from 17th-century Britain has been identified.

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