“We know the bacterium Y. pestis has jumped from rodents into humans throughout history and rodent reservoirs of plague still exist today in many parts of the world,” Associate Professor of the Center for microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University Dave Wagner said. “If the Justinian plague could erupt in the human population, cause a massive pandemic, and then die out, it suggest it could happen again. Fortunately we now have antibiotics that could be used to effectively treat plague, which lessens the chances of another large scale human pandemic.”
Other questions were recently raised about the origins of the plague. New research points to the Justinian Y. pestis originating from Asia, not Africa, which could mean the Plague of Athens and the Antonine plague may be caused by a completely separate strain of Y. pestis.
Researchers are still unable to answer why the Justinian Plague suddenly died out during the sixth century after killing an estimated 30 to 50 million people, approximately half the world’s population at the time.