Rivers in European Plague Outbreak Patterns, 1347-1760

by Michelle Ziegler The era of big data is coming to historic epidemiology. A new study published this month in Scientific Reports took a database of 5559 European outbreak reports (81.9% from UK, France, and Germany) between 1347 and 1760 to analyze the role of rivers in the incidence and spread of plague. Their hypothesis... 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 →

Contagions: The Society for Historic Infectious Disease Studies

  Over the coming year, I would like to organize a new society specifically on the study of infectious diseases in the past.  It is called Contagions: Society for Historic Infectious Disease Studies. It is open to everyone working on contemporary or historical aspects infectious diseases that can be studied in the past. Examples of these... 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 →

Changing the Plague-Flea Transmission Paradigm

The old paradigm is dead! Long live the new paradigm! Rebecca Eisen, David Dennis, and Kenneth Gage just published an article gathering all the evidence that should put an end to the blocked flea model as the only significant method of plague transmission.  They summarize the data proving that unblocked fleas can and do transmit... Continue Reading →

Multi-strain Plague Blooms Over Landscapes

Two articles have come to my attention over the couple months that argue strongly for an environmental role in plague epidemics/epizootics over clonal expansion. Taken together these studies suggest that multiple strains of Yersinia pestis percolate out of multiple reservoirs at the same time. The strongest support comes from Madagascar where ten MLVA defined strains from... Continue Reading →

A Migration Age Anglo-Saxon Leper

Paleomicrobiology and isotopic analysis has the ability to completely change what we know of past infectious diseases. A study published this month on a fifth century Anglo-Saxon skeleton is one of the most complete I have read. Lesions on skeletons found at Great Chesterfield in Essex, England, suggested possible leprosy. To confirm this diagnosis, they... Continue Reading →

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: