Reservoirs of Salt Adapted Yersinia pestis

The Arab Maghreb is one of the most arid environments to host plague reservoirs. The most recent study on the area highlights the proximity of plague foci to salt water, either the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean or importantly inland salt lakes (Malek et al, 2016). These inland salt springs, called chotts, are saltier than the ocean.... Continue Reading →

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Landscapes of Disease Themed Issue

For the last couple years, I have been writing about a landscape-based approach to the study of infectious disease in general and historic epidemics in particular. When I first wrote about Lambin et al.'s now classic paper "Pathogenic landscapes" nearly three years ago, I did not know then that it would be so influential in... Continue Reading →

The Promiscuous Human Flea

by Michelle Ziegler The human flea seems like a misnomer today. We are not its current primary host, but that doesn't mean that it once wasn't our primary flea.  Pulex irritans was first described by Carl Linnaeus as the "house flea" in 1758 (Krasnov 2012:4) and it is still found in homes in many parts of... Continue Reading →

Dogs as Plague Sentinels and Vectors

I've been a little obsessed with thinking about dogs and the plague lately. Dogs are often overlooked in historic plague discussions because they usually survive plague and dog-specific fleas are not associated with transmitting plague. Yet, dogs can host many of the fleas common among rodents and others that do transmit the plague including the... Continue Reading →

The Schistosoma in the Reliquary

The 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Louis, King of France, in 2014 provided an opportunity to obtain a sample of his relics for "scientific identification". With all relics the chain of custody and its backstory are critical for evaluation. Most of Louis' relics held in the Basilica of Saint-Denis  were destroyed during the... Continue Reading →

Reading in August

Just a little update on my reading in August. I've been jumping around a bit reading on the history of malaria and wetlands.  Lots of interesting bits and pieces! Books John Aberth. An Environmental History of the Middle Ages: The Crucible of Nature, 2013. Gregory of Tours (d. 594): Glory of the Confessors  Gregory of Tours (d. 594):... Continue Reading →

General Principles of Zoonotic Landscape Epidemiology

Zoonoses, pathogens with animal reservoirs, exist as part of a complex system of interactions between animal reservoirs, vectors, ecological factors and human interaction. Landscape epidemiology has existed as a field of study since Russian epidemiologist E.N. Pavlovsky coined the term and laid the groundwork in the 1960s. Landscape epidemiology is in essence the study of... Continue Reading →

The Landscape of Super-Spreading

Super-spreading individuals and disease hot spots have been known for over a century, but rarely have they been considered together. Sara Paull and colleagues [1] have pulled together all of the recent work the ecology of disease hot spots and transmission heterogeneity (super spreading) to explore the continuum between individual transmission heterogeneity and the landscape... Continue Reading →

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