Early in September 1665 George Viccars, a tailor, opened a consignment of cloth in his cottage in Eyam, a village near Sheffield, England, damp and hung it in front of his fire to dry.

With that innocent act, Viccars unleashed upon his community the most feared disease of the age. The package had come from London, where bubonic plague had been raging for months, and the cloth harbored fleas that carried the disease…By the end of September, five more people in the neighborhood had died, and in the first there days of October there were four more deaths. At the end of the month the toll had reached 23. The plague had come to the remote village of Eyam.

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