Plague has a long history on the European continent, with evidence of the disease dating back to the Stone Age. Plague epidemics in Europe during the First and Second Pandemics, including the Black Death, are infamous for their widespread mortality and lasting social and economic impact. Yet, Europe still experienced plague outbreaks during the Third Pandemic, which began in China and spread globally at the end of the nineteenth century. The digitization of international records of notifiable diseases, including plague, has enabled us to retrace the introductions of the disease to Europe from the earliest reported cases in 1899, to its disappearance in the 1940s. Using supplemental literature, we summarize the potential sources of plague in Europe and the transmission of the disease, including the role of rats. Finally, we discuss the international efforts aimed at prevention and intervention measures, namely improved hygiene and sanitation, that ultimately led to the disappearance of plague in Europe.
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