Evolutionary Clues in 17th-Century Smallpox Genome

By Michelle Ziegler Smallpox is one of those diseases long believed to have an ancient pedigree, the suspected culprit of legendary epidemics. Yet, so far, smallpox hasn't made a big impression in ancient DNA surveys. If it was truly endemic throughout the Old World before 1492, so much so that it pops up in the... Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →

Illustrations of the 1896-1897 Influenza Epidemic in Paris

This image has been used here at Contagions in various cropped versions as the header and avatar for several years now. I found a couple more related illustrations that are worth sharing and put the illustration in better context. This is an emergency tent hospital erected to handle the epidemic of 1897.  It certainly looks... Continue Reading →

Setting Affairs in Order During the Plague, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 1636

Keith Wrightson, Ralph Tailor's Summer: A Scrivener, his City, and the Plague. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011. Newcastle-upon-Tyne is one of those cities that is rarely the focus of a plague study - an industrial town whose prosperity and continued existence was based on its economic impact. Coal was king in seventeenth century... Continue Reading →

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