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Public health advocates stage street theater to attract people to attend an Ebola awareness and prevention event on August 18, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
A new book titled Biology of Plagues: Evidence from Historical Populations, argues that the "Black Death" may not have been caused by the bubonic plague, as history textbooks would suggest, but rather, an Ebola-like virus.

The authors, Christopher Duncan and Susan Scott of the University of Liverpool, claim that the bubonic plague could not have spread across Europe at the rate in which the Black Death did.

Duncan says, "If you look at the way it spreads, it was spreading at a rate of around 30 miles in two to three days. Bubonic plague moves at a pace of around 100 yards a year."

Duncan and Scott also analyzed the symptoms described in historical texts. Autopsy reports detail the internal organs of victims having had dissolved along with the appearance of black liquid. The liquidization of internal organs is a trademark of the Ebola virus and causes its victims tremendous pain.

The oozing lymph nodes that so notoriously accompanied the Black Death could also be symptomatic of an Ebola-like virus. In both cases, hemorrhagic fevers come on fast and causes blood vessels to burst underneath the skin. This is what brings out the welts, or "buboes" as they were called during the time of the Black Death.

The authors also noted that efforts to quarantine the Black Death were successful - something that would not had been possible had the disease been transmitted by rats, as history has suggested, since rats do not observe quarantines.

But not everyone is convinced. Ann Carmichael, a historian and expert on the Black Plague says, "It is problematic to assimilate evidence over four centuries and draw conclusive theories," she says, "We must look at it on a plague-by-plague basis."