The Microbial Anthropocene

Over the last decade or so, geologists and ecologists have begun to talk about planet earth entering a new geologic period called the Anthropocene, defined as the period when humans became the driving force of change on planet Earth. Debates continue on when the Anthropocene begins; sometime in the late 18th century when the industrial... Continue Reading →

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War as a Driver in Tuberculosis Evolution

by Michelle Ziegler Russia has been all over the news lately. Beyond our recent election, increased Russian activity on the world stage has public health consequences for Europe and farther afield. It has been known for a long time that post-Soviet Russia had and continues to have serious public health problems. One of their particular... Continue Reading →

An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections

Ron Barrett and George Armelagos. An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections. Oxford University Press, 2013 (e-book) This is not a traditional review. In keeping with this blog's function as my shared file cabinet, this post will be something like a précis /notes with a few of  my comments in italics. Medical anthropologists Ron Barrett and George Aremelagos... Continue Reading →

Antibiotic Resistance, Agriculture, and the Plague

Antibiotics have ended the uncontrollable outbreaks of plague in humans that stalked our ancestors. Today, outbreaks are usually snuffed out after a couple of cases with antibiotic treatment of patients, prophylactic treatment of contacts and vector control. Our greatest risks from plague today are a pneumonic plague outbreak/attack and the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Beginning... Continue Reading →

Fleshing out Yersinia pestis

by Michelle Ziegler Up until a few months ago there were a few representative samples of the Yersinia pestis genome. Important windows into its secrets, but windows none the less. In January a Chinese group remedied this situation by expanding the number of fully sequenced genomes from 15 to 133 (Cui et al, 2013).  China... Continue Reading →

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