YOU may have heard of the 10 plagues in the Bible, or maybe you’ve seen news reports of locust swarms devouring crops? A plague or pest can be human and/or natural – in other words it might occur only in animals, only in humans or in both. Two terms can help you understand plagues and pestilence better: mass sickness (epidemic) and devastation.
Here’s more on what a plague or pestilence is, what causes it and how we might control it.
A plague can be plants that cause damage to crops (noxious weeds); vertebrates such as rodents or birds; invertebrates such as insects, fleas or snails; or nematodes (roundworms). When a plague comes in the form of a pathogen (bacteria, virus or fungus), we call it pestilence, and this can cause outbreaks of mass sickness (epidemic or pandemic). Plagues can also come in the form of organisms that affect water quality and cause damage to animals or other parts of the ecosystem, leading to widespread devastation.