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 →

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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 →

Medieval Historians Taking Genomics into Account

At the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo (Kzoo) last month, I couldn't help feeling that we have reached a turning point. I went to four sessions that engaged in genomics, human and/or bacterial, in some way. Granted, these are a tiny proportion of the 500+ sessions offered, but I have learned that if you... Continue Reading →

Presentations on the Plague from the European Association of Archaeologists, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2016

I just discovered that most of the presentations from the "Plague in Diachronic and Interdisciplinary Perspective" session of the Europan Association of Archaeologists meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania on 2 September 2016 are now on YouTube.  I think I have collected them all here. Enjoy 3 hours of plague talks! Introduction-Plague in diachronic and Interdisciplinary perspective by... Continue Reading →

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 →

The Case for Louse-Transmitted Plague

by Michelle Ziegler The key to understanding plague -- past, present, and future -- has always been understanding its vector dynamics. By the latest tally, there are 269 known flea species, plus a small collection of ticks and lice, that can be infected with Yersinia pestis. With this many infected parasites, it's not a surprise that... Continue Reading →

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