Scientists identifies new contender for "patient zero"

Scientists have identified a new contender for "patient zero" in the plague that caused the Black Death.

A man who died more than 5,000 years ago in Latvia was infected with the earliest-known strain of the disease, according to new evidence.

The plague swept through Europe in the 1300s, wiping out as much as half of the population.

Later waves continued to strike regularly over several centuries, causing millions of deaths.

"Up to now this is the oldest-identified plague victim we have," Dr Ben Krause-Kyora of the University of Kiel in Germany said of the 5,300-year-old remains.

The man was buried with three others at a Neolithic burial site in Latvia by the side of the River Salac, which flows into the Baltic Sea.