Os segredos da peste

As amostras de DNA foram retiradas de esqueletos encontrados em Londres Direito de imagem BBC World Service

The genetic code of the germ that caused the Black Death has been reconstructed by scientists for the first time.

The Black Death, also known as the plague, killed millions of people in Europe in the 14th Century.

Reportagem: Matt McGrath

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Humans have rarely encountered an enemy as devastating as the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Between 1347 and 1351 it sparked the Black Death, an infection carried by fleas that spread rapidly across Europe killing around 50 million people.

Now scientists have uncovered some of the genetic secrets of the plague, thanks to DNA fragments drilled from the teeth of victims buried in a graveyard in East London.

The researchers say that all current strains circulating in the world are directly related to the medieval bacterium. And while the infection still kills 2,000 people globally every year, it's much less of a threat because our immune systems have adapted to it.

The scientists say the techniques used to rebuild the genome of the Black Death could now be used to reconstruct other ancient pathogens

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rarely encoutered (raramente encontrado, algo que não é encontrado com frequência ou algo com o qual que não se entra em contato frequentemente) not often met or come into contact with

devastating (devastador, destruidor, que faz mal) destructive and harmful

sparked (iniciou, deflagrou, causou o começo de algo) caused to start

fleas (pulgas, pequenos insetos saltadores que se alimentam do sangue de animais e de seres humanos) tiny jumping insects which feed on the blood of animals and humans

fragments (fragmentos, pequenos pedaços incompletos de) small, incomplete pieces of

victims (vítimas, pessoas que morreram ao contrair a doença) people who had died of the disease

strains (variantes, versões diferentes da doença) versions of the disease

immune system (sistema imunológico, o mecanismo natural de defesa do seu corpo) our body's natural defence mechanism

adapted (adaptado, alterado e evoluído de modo a lutar de modo mais eficaz) changed and evolved to be able effectively to fight

pathogens (pequenos organismos que causam as doenças) small organisms that cause diseases