Defining pandemic

Defining a pandemic is not an easy thing to do. It turns out that there has never really been much consensus about what constitutes a pandemic. The term pandemic has been used almost interchangeably with epidemic since the beginning of its usage. In the midst of responding to last year's H1N1 influenza outbreak, public health... Continue Reading →

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Lazarus does not have the plague!

I get it. We would all like to have more illustrations of the plague. It is hard to fathom how a horrific event like the Black Death has left so few bonafide illustrations. Misidentified illustrations do not solve the problem; they compound the confusion. Three images commonly used to illustrate the Black Death have been proven misidentifications;... Continue Reading →

Ancient Plague Strains in Kyrgyzstan

The process of mapping ancient Yersinia pestis (plague) strains along the central Asian mountain chain, or greater Himalayas continues. Up to now, most of the living ancient strains have been mapped in Tibet/western China and a few scattered other places (Cui et al, 2010).  Russian scholars have a released data on mapped ancient strains of Yersinia... Continue Reading →

The Evolution of Ebola Zoonotic Cycles

I have a weakness for good scientific graphics, especially zoonotic cycles. In his recent paper, Christos Lynteris looks at these diagrams with the eye of a visual anthropologist. He explains why zoonotic cycle diagrams work, and why they sometimes confer much more information that we intend (or want). Since these diagrams are intended for public... Continue Reading →

Troubling Thoughts on Plague in Madagascar

Initially, it seemed like just another, now annual, outbreak.  Plague is endemic in Madagascar, producing about 400 infections per year. As of October 13,  there were 684 cases infections with 57 deaths. Four days later (the weekend update), the case number jumped to 804 cases and 74 deaths for a 9.3% mortality rate and pneumonic plague reached 74%... Continue Reading →

Disease and Discrimination in Colonial Atlantic America

Reviewed by Michelle Ziegler Dale Hutchinson. Disease and Discrimination: Poverty and Pestilence in Colonial Atlantic America. University of Florida Press, 2016. $85 Dale Hutchinson's latest book fits into a recent trend of a more critical analysis of the role disease played in the demographic collapse of Native Americans in the Colonial period. After spending most of... Continue Reading →

CFP: Contagions sessions at the International Congress for Medieval Studies 2018

by Michelle Ziegler Contagions: The Society for Historic Infectious Disease Studies has been given the opportunity of organizing three sessions at next year's International Congress for Medieval Studies. This is the equivalent of a full day at the Congress. The Congress will be held from May 10 to May 13, 2018, at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo... Continue Reading →

Roundtable on Campbell’s Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World

by Michelle Ziegler Bruce Campbell. The Great Transition: Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World. Cambridge University Press, 2016. When I first learned that Bruce Campbell was working on this book, I wondered if it would be the first grand synthesis of the new paradigm. Although there have been some very good regional... Continue Reading →

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