- Not Exactly Rocket Science
There’s No Plague on the NYC Subway. No Platypuses Either.
There is no good evidence that Yersinia pestis—the bacterium that causes plague—is riding aboard the New York City subway. That’s the message from several microbiologists, in response to a wave of news stories that emerged last Friday.
“Plague, anthrax and cheese? Scientists map bacteria on New York subway,” said the Guardian. “From beetles to bubonic plague: Bizarre DNA found in NYC subway stations,” proclaimed the Washington Post. “Terrifying microbe map of New York’s subway system reveals superbugs, anthrax and bubonic plague,” blathered the Daily Mail, duly retaining its crown as the champions of scaremongering.
All of these stories were based on a census of some of New York City’s smallest residents—its microbes. Over the course of 18 months, a team of scientists