The Plague: Could It Happen Today?

ambience: music


The Bubonic Plague swept through Europe in the 14th century, wiping out an estimated 40 percent of the population. Well, with the benefits of modern medicine, it may seem impossible to have such an outbreak in our time, but is it? I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Norman Cantor is a Professor Emeritus of History at New York University and the author of “In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death & the World it Made”. He says that in our time we are witnesses to a disease comparable to the Black Death.

“The place where HIV/AIDS has hit hardest is sub-Saharan Africa, where at least thirty percent of the population is dying or has already died. Governments there are too poor to import the complicated package of drugs which could help people survive for a few more years. Therefore you’re having an outbreak of AIDS in South Africa which is very much like the great pandemic of the 14th Century. t’s a disaster. It’s social implications, political implications, as well as biomedical implications have still not been visualized. And we’re facing another era of, of crisis.”

And HIV/AIDS isn’t the only disease to threaten us.

“There’s also been talk that Tuberculosis, an infectious disease that was very deadly in the 19th and early 20th centuries turned out to be curable by sulfur drugs in the late 1940s. And a new strain of tuberculosis has appeared which is much more resistant to antibiotics. And that could be, could be the next great problem on the horizon.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.


The Plague: Could It Happen Today?

Despite the advances of modern medicine, much of the global population is susceptible to infectious diseases.
Air Date:09/21/2001
Scientist:
Transcript:

ambience: music


The Bubonic Plague swept through Europe in the 14th century, wiping out an estimated 40 percent of the population. Well, with the benefits of modern medicine, it may seem impossible to have such an outbreak in our time, but is it? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Norman Cantor is a Professor Emeritus of History at New York University and the author of "In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death & the World it Made". He says that in our time we are witnesses to a disease comparable to the Black Death.

"The place where HIV/AIDS has hit hardest is sub-Saharan Africa, where at least thirty percent of the population is dying or has already died. Governments there are too poor to import the complicated package of drugs which could help people survive for a few more years. Therefore you're having an outbreak of AIDS in South Africa which is very much like the great pandemic of the 14th Century. t's a disaster. It's social implications, political implications, as well as biomedical implications have still not been visualized. And we're facing another era of, of crisis."

And HIV/AIDS isn't the only disease to threaten us.

"There's also been talk that Tuberculosis, an infectious disease that was very deadly in the 19th and early 20th centuries turned out to be curable by sulfur drugs in the late 1940s. And a new strain of tuberculosis has appeared which is much more resistant to antibiotics. And that could be, could be the next great problem on the horizon."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.