I came to understand that the Black Death was transmitted through rats. But I can't find how it ended.

  • Was it the lack of people and a reduction of the trading system between countries that made it less and less present?
  • Did the animal transmitting it become resistent to it?
  • Did we find a cure?

How did it happen?

  • 8
    "Did we find a cure?" -- Rule of thumb: If it's a virus, you can vaccinate, but not cure. If it's a bacterium, you can give antibiotics, but over time there will be resilient strands developing, and your antibiotics will lose effectiveness. The plague is a bacterium. What the Black Death was, exactly, is not really known to this day; it is assumed to have been a particularly nasty strand of the plague, but we do not really know.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 21:54
  • 8
    It never really ended, at least not until much later. Population density, seasonal weather changes, travel patterns, local measures like quarantine and the like might account for the ebbs and flows of the disease but it made regular returns during four centuries. Why it seems to almost disappear from the 18th century onwards and not 100-150 years later is interesting though, it seems to predate most major advances in medicine and hygiene, certainly antibiotics.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 22:05
  • 13
    The relevant Wikipedia article also includes this: Modern researchers do not think that the plague ever became endemic in Europe or its rat population. The disease repeatedly wiped out the rodent carriers so that the fleas died out until a new outbreak from Central Asia repeated the process. The outbreaks have been shown to occur roughly 15 years after a warmer and wetter period in areas where plague is endemic in other species such as gerbils.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 22:06
  • 6
    @Relaxed That is less a comment and more an answer, don't you think?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 2:34
  • 3
    This question would be improved by research.
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 1:44

4 Answers 4


The answer to this is vast. Simply put, the mix of devastation to the population and the fact that we started to, as @noel1 put it, quarantine people helped. There is also a suspicion that that the bacterium killed off those people that were most susceptible to the plague, leaving those who were naturally immune or in better health. So between reduced contact with others, cleaner living because of less population, natural selection and quarantine, our ancestors lived on.

Scientific American - Black Death survivors and their descendants went on to live longer

Gale - How the Black Death came to an end

History.com - Medieval Black Death was airborne scientists say

  • And fewer people to eat the food supply, at a time when many parts of Europe were struggling with malnourishment due to failing harvests in a multi year cold period also helped. The survivors were physically stronger, which tends to improve the immune system.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 5:59

To paraphrase history.com the black plague just ran its course and ended by change. However, it reappeared every few generations for quite a while, and eventually, with modern sanitation, it has disappeared almost completely.

  • 6
    Just to say "it ran it's course" doesn't really tell us anything. This is kind of a non-answer. It's not like this rapidly spreading virus just got bored and said to itself "I am so tired of infecting and killing everybody I am just going to die now... I've run my course".
    – Hack-R
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 1:57
  • 6
    The answer to what "ran it's course" means is a question of biology, not history. There are a variety of reasons, but it is in part due to human immunity. People either die or become resistant, reducing the number of people that can be infected. But anyway, not a question for this site. The history is that plagues in history have stopped. Ask a biologist why.
    – user15620
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 4:41
  • 1
    @StevenBurnap: There is some evidence to suggest that Hemechromatosis carriers and sufferers are resistant to the Plague, resulting in both its prevalence in Western European countries, and the popularity of leaching as a medical treatment for centuries afterwards. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 7:22

Luck and quarantine.
Comes from italian phrase quaranta giorni - forty days for foreign ships to harbour before unloading.

  • 4
    I'm not sure I can agree that luck had anything at all to do with a plague that repeatedly hit over centuries finally ending its scourge.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 19:23

The winter helped kill of fly`s that were infected it and reduce the people that were infected. people also died of in the winter which helped halt the black death. Quarantine contributed and as more people died they where less compact which helped.

  • 10
    This answer would be improved by sources.
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 1:44

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