Bubonic / Pneumonic / Septicemic Plague: Yersina Pestis

EnolaGaia

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This new research has determined the seminal strain of plague from which the European plagues derived was located in the lower Volga region. This may not be where this especially virulent strain originated, but it seems to be the location from which the plague migrated into Europe.
Ancient DNA traces the Black Death to Russia’s Volga region

In the 14th century, the Black Death wiped out as much as 60% of the population of Europe, spreading rapidly from the shores of the Black Sea to central Europe. Although historical records first document its appearance in 1346 C.E. in the lower Volga region of Russia, researchers didn’t know whether the highly virulent strain of Yersinia pestis bacterium that caused the deadly pandemic came from a single source or was introduced to Europe more than once by travelers carrying diverse strains of plague from different parts of the ancient world.

Now, by analyzing 34 ancient genomes of Y. pestis from the teeth of people buried at 10 sites across Europe from the 14th to 17th centuries (including a mass grave in Toulouse, France—above), researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, have found the earliest known evidence of this pandemic comes from Laishevo, in Russia’s Volga region. There, researchers found a strain of Y. pestis that was ancestral to all other genomes they studied, differing by only one mutation from those that caused the Black Death in Europe, they report today in Nature Communications.

That doesn’t mean the Volga region was ground zero for the Black Death—it could have come from elsewhere in western Asia, where scientists have yet to sample ancient DNA of Y. pestis. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/ancient-dna-traces-black-death-russia-s-volga-region
 

ramonmercado

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It hasn't gone away ye know.

(CNN)Two people in China are being treated for plague, authorities said Tuesday. It's the second time the disease, the same one that caused the Black Death, one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, has been detected in the region -- in May, a Mongolian couple died from bubonic plague after eating the raw kidney of a marmot, a local folk health remedy.

The two recent patients, from the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, were diagnosed with pneumonic plague by doctors in the Chinese capital Beijing, according to state media Xinhua. They are now receiving treatment in Beijing's Chaoyang District, and authorities have implemented preventative control measures.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/13/health/china-plague-intl-hnk-scn-scli/index.html
https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/08/health/bubonic-plague-explainer-trnd/index.html
 

EnolaGaia

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A newly published study challenges the widely stated claims the first of the 3 major plague pandemics - the Justinianic Plague - was responsible for the final collapse of the Roman Empire.
The plague probably didn't wipe out the Roman Empire and half the world's population, new study suggests

Plague is often depicted as shifting the course of human history, but scholars say an outbreak that has been blamed for the demise of the Roman Empire likely didn't kill half the world's population in just a few years.

A new study published Monday explores the effects of the first recorded plague pandemic, known as the Justinianic Plague, that was thought to have swept the world starting from the year 541. Many scholars believe the outbreak was a landmark event that led to significant demographic, economic and political changes in the period known as Late Antiquity -- much as the Black Death devastated Europe in the Middle Ages.

"If this plague was a key moment in human history that killed between a third and half the population of the Mediterranean world in just a few years, as is often claimed, we should have evidence for it -- but our survey of data sets found none," said Lee Mordechai, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland's National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.

An international team of historians looked at a diverse range of data to investigate the effects of the outbreak, including historical texts, coin circulation, burial practices, pollen samples, stone inscriptions, mortuary archaeology and plague genomes.

They found that the number of deaths caused by the outbreak may have been overestimated, and that the plague did not play a significant role in the transformation of the Mediterranean world or Europe. It also didn't play a key role in the fall of the Roman Empire. ...

"Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. We find little evidential support for the claim that the JP [Justinianic Plague] was a watershed event," the study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded.

The authors said previous scholars focused on the most evocative written accounts, applying them to other places in the Mediterranean world while ignoring hundreds of contemporary texts that did not mention the Justinianic Plague. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/02/world/plague-roman-empire-scn/index.html
 

EnolaGaia

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The study challenging the historical effects of the Justinianic Plague can be accessed at:

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/11/26/1903797116

You can download it as a PDF file at:

https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2019/11/26/1903797116.full.pdf

Here's the abstract ...

Abstract

Existing mortality estimates assert that the Justinianic Plague (circa 541 to 750 CE) caused tens of millions of deaths throughout the Mediterranean world and Europe, helping to end antiquity and start the Middle Ages. In this article, we argue that this paradigm does not fit the evidence. We examine a series of independent quantitative and qualitative datasets that are directly or indirectly linked to demographic and economic trends during this two-century period: Written sources, legislation, coinage, papyri, inscriptions, pollen, ancient DNA, and mortuary archaeology. Individually or together, they fail to support the maximalist paradigm: None has a clear independent link to plague outbreaks and none supports maximalist reconstructions of late antique plague. Instead of large-scale, disruptive mortality, when contextualized and examined together, the datasets suggest continuity across the plague period. Although demographic, economic, and political changes continued between the 6th and 8th centuries, the evidence does not support the now commonplace claim that the Justinianic Plague was a primary causal factor of them.
 

staticgirl

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Ah this is great - thanks. I have been wondering what happened in the Justinianic plague recently. I don't know anything about it.
 

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Mass Grave In Lincolnshire

A mass grave containing the remains of dozens of victims of the Black Death offers chilling new evidence of the speed and scale of the devastation the plague brought to rural England, according to archaeologists.

The grave, discovered in a remote corner of rural Lincolnshire, has been dated to the 14th century, almost certainly to the earliest and deadliest medieval outbreak of the disease in 1348-9.

It contained the bodies of at least 48 men, women and children who were laid in a sandy pit within days of each other. DNA tests on the bodies found the plague pathogen, confirming how they died.

About half the population of England was wiped out within 18 months by the 1348-9 pandemic. Perhaps surprisingly, however, direct archaeological evidence for the Black Death is extremely rare, according to Hugh Willmott, senior lecturer in European historical archaeology at the University of Sheffield, who led the excavation.

While a small number of plague mass graves have been excavated in London, he said, nothing comparable has ever been found in a rural context, making this a discovery of national importance. Analysis of the find, made in 2013, has been published for the first time in Antiquity.

While the layout of the bodies showed they had all been buried within a period of days, said Willmott, they had not been flung without ceremony into a shared pit. Instead, the victims – more than half of whom were children – were shrouded and laid carefully side by side.

“They are trying to treat them as respectfully as possible, because in the middle ages it’s very important to give the dead a proper burial. Even though it is the height of a terrible disaster, they are taking as much care as they can with the dead.”
 

Frideswide

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Good find @hunck Nice evidence of the disposal practices too.

[swank] I know Hugh Wilmott :D [/swank]
 

Yithian

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Social Distancing During The Black Death
Written by James Hankins

One of the comforts of studying history is that, no matter how bad things get, you can always find a moment in the past when things were much, much worse. Some commentators on our current crisis have been throwing around comparisons to earlier pandemics, and the Black Death of 1347 — 50 inevitably gets mentioned. Please. The Black Death wiped out half the population of Europe in the space of four years. In some places the mortality was far swifter and deadlier than that. The novelist Giovanni Boccaccio, who gave us the most vivid picture of the Black Death in literature, estimated that 100,000 people died in Florence in the four months between March and July 1348. The population of the city in 1338, according to one contemporary chronicler, stood at 120,000.

Boccaccio at the time was a city tax official and saw the whole thing at ground level. Every morning bodies of the dead—husbands, wives, children, servants—were pushed out into the street where they were piled on stretchers, later on carts. They were carried to the nearest church for a quick blessing, then trundled to graveyards outside the city for burial. As the death toll rose, traditional burial practices were abandoned. Deep trenches were dug into which bodies were dumped in layers with a thin covering of soil shoveled on top. Boccaccio writes that “no more respect was accorded the dead than would today be shown to dead goats.”


Interesting Article Continues:
https://quillette.com/2020/03/28/social-distancing-during-the-black-death/
 

ramonmercado

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Attempts were made to cover up an outbreak of the plague in California in 1900. Allegations of Fake News.

On March 6, 1900, the body of a 41-year-old Chinese-American worker named Chick Gin was found in the basement of a hotel in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

While writing up the death certificate, a city doctor noticed strange nodules on the corpse. Tests at a municipal lab showed that the cause of death was the dreaded bubonic plague, the first case ever identified on American soil. The city’s newly founded Board of Health immediately put Chinatown under a strict quarantine.

Over the next two years followed an extraordinary struggle between California officials who denied the existence of plague and federal scientists who fought to stop the growing epidemic. The resulting nationwide controversy drew in the president and nearly two dozen governors, and ultimately forced California’s governor from office—but not before a leading scientist was demonized and more than a hundred victims had died of the grisly disease. ...

But then, two days after Gin’s body was found, the San Francisco Chronicle published a front-page story with the headline, “Plague Fake is Part of a Plot to Plunder.” Local businessmen feared that news of a plague outbreak would ravage the economy, and they hotly disputed the claim by the city’s Board of Health. Under their pressure, the city lifted the quarantine the next day. The newspaper celebrated the decision, complaining that it had caused “vast injury to business.” ...

On March 11, a federal official named Joseph Kinyoun confirmed that Gin had died of plague. Kinyoun led the port’s Marine Health Service, the federal office responsible for dealing with disease threats that could enter through the nation’s ports. A respected physician, he had helped found the U.S. Hygienic Laboratory that led to the National Institutes of Health. ...

Kinyoun quickly became the prime target of the naysayers, despite his sterling credentials. He had studied with plague experts in Europe—including one of the two men who discovered the bacillus that caused the disease—and had been put in his position specifically to safeguard California from the expected arrival of plague. When he refused to accept bribes to falsify his data, he was mercilessly attacked in print as corrupt and incompetent, and even suspected of planting the bacillus on Gin’s corpse.

The following January, Governor Gage publicly castigated “the plague fakers” and accused Kinyoun by name of giving a “post-mortem inoculation” using “imported plague bacilli.” Such a crime, he added, was a felony with a punishment of life imprisonment. Kinyoun was later briefly arrested by state officials. ...

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/04/bubonic-plague-first-struck-america-officials-tried-cover-up/
 

Comfortably Numb

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I recall this publication from way back.

I wonder what the consensus is now - a theory still dismissed?

Did bubonic plague really cause the Black Death?


Source: New Scientist
Date: 24 November, 2001

Everyone thinks the Black Death was caused by bubonic plague. But they could be wrong – and we need to find the real culprit before it strikes again

[...]

If the Black Death wasn’t bubonic plague, then what was it? Possibly-and ominously-it may have been a virus. The evidence comes from a mutant protein on the surface of certain white blood cells. The protein, CCR5, normally acts as a receptor for the immune signalling molecules called chemokines, which help control inflammation. The AIDS virus and the poxvirus that causes myxomatosis in rabbits also use CCR5 as a docking port to enter and kill immune cells.

[...]

But the possibility that the Black Death could strike again should give scientists the incentive to keep trying. The similarity of the catastrophes in Athens, Constantinople and medieval Europe suggests that whatever the pathogen is, it comes out of hiding every few centuries. And the last outbreak was its fastest and most murderous. What would it do in the modern world? Maybe we should find it, before it finds us.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17223184-000-did-bubonic-plague-really-cause-the-black-death/
 

Lb8535

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As I remember, both forms of plague common in the US are carried by rodents, although especially with pneumonic, humans can transmit. So the first case in the US probably arrived with a rat. Apparently on the west coast since it is still most prevalent in the west. Very unlikely that anyone could have survived a sea trip from China to SF while infected, the incubation period is seven days.
 

IbisNibs

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When traveling in the Sierra Mountains in the western US, it is always possible to encounter warnings that those cute chipmunks carry bubonic plague.
xplague-warning.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ZjIq-Nx4WS.jpg
 

Lb8535

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When traveling in the Sierra Mountains in the western US, it is always possible to encounter warnings that those cute chipmunks carry bubonic plague.
View attachment 25756
Its carried by several sorts of rodents, most of them cute, transmitted by fleas, and has been slowly spreading to the east coast.
 

Yithian

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China is really outdoing herself lately:

Authorities in China have stepped up precautions after a city in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region confirmed one case of bubonic plague.

According to state reports, the Bayannur patient - a herdsman - is in quarantine and in a stable condition.

Officials issued a Level 3 warning, the second-lowest in a four-tier system.

The bubonic plague, caused by bacterial infection, can be deadly, but can be treated with commonly available antibiotics.

The new case was first reported as suspected bubonic plague on Saturday at a hospital in Urad Middle Banner, in Bayannur city.

It is not yet clear how or why the patient might have become infected.

The level 3 alert forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry plague and calls on the public to report suspected cases.


Full Story:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-53303457
 

hunck

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China is really outdoing herself lately:

Authorities in China have stepped up precautions after a city in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region confirmed one case of bubonic plague.

According to state reports, the Bayannur patient - a herdsman - is in quarantine and in a stable condition.

Officials issued a Level 3 warning, the second-lowest in a four-tier system.

The bubonic plague, caused by bacterial infection, can be deadly, but can be treated with commonly available antibiotics.

The new case was first reported as suspected bubonic plague on Saturday at a hospital in Urad Middle Banner, in Bayannur city.

It is not yet clear how or why the patient might have become infected.

The level 3 alert forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry plague and calls on the public to report suspected cases.


Full Story:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-53303457
I read a report today it was from eating raw marmoset. Yumm......
 

escargot

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I read a report today it was from eating raw marmoset. Yumm......
When this comes up I wonder if it's actually eating the meat that's the problem or just handling it.
So you could catch a marmoset and prepare it for someone else, then find yourself all bubo'd up. UNlucky.
 

Lb8535

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Some biologist caught it when doing an autopsy on a puma.
I've had to be aware of the hanta virus living in a rural farming area, and in order for this to happen he would have had to open the animal's gut and managed to infect himself with some part of a half-digested rodent. Or you can inhale the bacterium from some powdered form of rodent, usually droppings. It's not super-easy to get but you do have to take care for example in cleaning out mouse nests - gloves and masks. It lives for 10 days outside of the rodent, so disgusting old nests are safer. And fleas. Avoid them.
 

hunck

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When this comes up I wonder if it's actually eating the meat that's the problem or just handling it.
So you could catch a marmoset and prepare it for someone else, then find yourself all bubo'd up. UNlucky.
That seems more likely, I mean, why wouldn't you cook your marmoset rather than eat it raw?
 

blessmycottonsocks

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"why wouldn't you cook your marmoset rather than eat it raw? "

Because they hunt them in kayaks and all attempts to build cooking fires in kayaks inevitably resulted in the boat bursting into flames and getting destroyed.
Or as the saying goes, you can't have your kayak and heat it...
 

ramonmercado

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Russia is taking it seriously.

Russian public health officials and police are visiting communities near Mongolia warning them not to hunt marmots, as at least two people have caught bubonic plague in Mongolia.

Some shepherds in Russia's mountainous Altai region traditionally hunt marmots and eat the meat, defying a ban. In western Mongolia a quarantine has been imposed on Khovd province. A plague case was also confirmed in neighbouring China. Fleas from rats transmitted the medieval Black Death.

Highly infectious bubonic plague killed about 50 million people across Africa, Asia and Europe in the 14th Century. The bacterial disease was named the Black Death after the dark swellings or "buboes" that victims suffered. Today plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics if caught in time, but left untreated the fever can kill a victim in a very short time.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53319765
 

Lb8535

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Russia is taking it seriously.

Russian public health officials and police are visiting communities near Mongolia warning them not to hunt marmots, as at least two people have caught bubonic plague in Mongolia.

Some shepherds in Russia's mountainous Altai region traditionally hunt marmots and eat the meat, defying a ban. In western Mongolia a quarantine has been imposed on Khovd province. A plague case was also confirmed in neighbouring China. Fleas from rats transmitted the medieval Black Death.

Highly infectious bubonic plague killed about 50 million people across Africa, Asia and Europe in the 14th Century. The bacterial disease was named the Black Death after the dark swellings or "buboes" that victims suffered. Today plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics if caught in time, but left untreated the fever can kill a victim in a very short time.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53319765
Today also we understand how it is transmitted, which was not clear in the 14th century. I'm a little confused by the "don't eat the marmots" instructions because as I understand it, it's "don't let the fleas on the marmot get anywhere near you or breathe anywhere near the marmot" but I'm happy for people not to be eating marmots whatever they are so that's OK.
 

EnolaGaia

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... I'm a little confused by the "don't eat the marmots" instructions because as I understand it, it's "don't let the fleas on the marmot get anywhere near you or breathe anywhere near the marmot" ...
Yersinia pestis can be transferred by contact with the flesh or body fluids of an infected animal. If the infection becomes the pneumonic form of the plague it can be transferred among humans via droplets coughed out by infected persons.

https://web.archive.org/web/20150822100946/http://www.cdc.gov/plague/transmission/index.html
 

EnolaGaia

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A fatal case of bubonic plague has occurred in Inner Mongolia - the second this year.
China seals off village after bubonic plague death in Inner Mongolia

Authorities in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia have sealed off a village after a resident there died from bubonic plague, a centuries-old disease responsible for the most deadly pandemic in human history.

The death was reported to health authorities in Baotou city on Sunday and the victim was confirmed to be a bubonic plague patient on Thursday, the Baotou Municipal Health Commission said in a statement on its website.

The patient died of circulatory system failure, according to the statement. It did not mention how the patient had caught the plague.

To curb the spread of the disease, authorities sealed off Suji Xincun village, where the dead patient lived, and ordered daily disinfection of homes. All villagers have so far tested negative for the disease, the statement said.

Nine close contacts and 26 secondary contacts of the patient have been quarantined and tested negative, the commission said.

Damao Banner, the district where the village is located, has been put on Level 3 alert for plague prevention, the second lowest in a four-level system, until the end of the year.

This is the second case -- and first death -- of bubonic plague China has confirmed this year. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/07/asia/china-mongolia-bubonic-plague-death-intl-hnk-scli-scn/index.html
 

EnolaGaia

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A case has surfaced in California - the first since 2015.
A California resident has been diagnosed with plague for the first time in five years

A South Lake Tahoe resident has been diagnosed with the plague, marking the first human case in California since 2015.

Health officials believe the person may have been bitten by an infected flea while walking their dog in the area, according to a press release from the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency.

The infected person is recovering at home under the care of a medical professional, the release said.

Symptoms of plague often appear within two weeks of exposure and can include fever, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes, according to the release. Treatment with antibiotics can be effective if the infectious disease is detected early enough. ...

The last confirmed case of plague in California was in 2015, when two people were exposed to infected rodents or their fleas in Yosemite National Park. Both people were treated and recovered.

Before that, there hadn't been a case in the state since 2006.

In recent decades, an average of seven cases of human plague have been reported each year in the United States, with a range of one to 17 cases per year, the CDC reports.

Earlier this month, a New Mexico man in his 20's died from septicemic plague. He was the state's second confirmed case this year. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/18/us/california-plague-first-since-2015-trnd/index.html
 
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