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Thread: New Evidence the Black Death wasn't Actually A Bubonic Plague After All

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    Elite Member Seth82's Avatar
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    Default New Evidence the Black Death wasn't Actually A Bubonic Plague After All

    Black Death-plague: Skeleton teeth reveal Black Death was an airborne illness, not a bubonic plague as once thought.

    New Evidence the Black Death Wasn't Actually a Bubonic Plague After All


    At least 75 million people—including more than half of Britain’s population—are believed to have died during the 14th and 15th centuries from the plague known as the Black Death. For years, the fatal disease's spread was widely blamed on infected rats' fleas. But now, thanks to a trove of 25 skeletons unearthed by work on a new London railway line last year, scientists now believe the disease was instead likely airborne. How was this historic information gleaned? Teeth pulled from the centuries-old skeletons.


    The Guardian with the details of the toothy discovery (emphasis mine):

    By extracting the DNA of the disease bacterium, Yersinia pestis, from the largest teeth in some of the skulls retrieved from the square, the scientists were able to compare the strain of bubonic plague preserved there with that which was recently responsible for killing 60 people in Madagascar. To their surprise, the 14th-century strain, the cause of the most lethal catastrophe in recorded history, was no more virulent than today's disease. The DNA codes were an almost perfect match.


    According to scientists working at Public Health England in Porton Down, for any plague to spread at such a pace it must have got into the lungs of victims who were malnourished and then been spread by coughs and sneezes. It was therefore a pneumonic plague rather than a bubonic plague. Infection was spread human to human, rather than by rat fleas that bit a sick person and then bit another victim. "As an explanation [rat fleas] for the Black Death in its own right, it simply isn't good enough. It cannot spread fast enough from one household to the next to cause the huge number of cases that we saw during the Black Death epidemics," said Dr Tim Brooks from Porton Down.

    The skeletons were excavated after they were found by construction crews working on the Crosstrail Line in London's Charterhouse Square. Teams of archaeologists, scientists, historians and physicists are continuing to examine the remains for more information about both the plague and life during those centuries, according to theAssociated Press. More more on the discovery here and here.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    I thought it was bubonic plague because people had buboes on them when they succumbed to the disease. How would you have those if you had a pneumonic plague?

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    With modern travel, the next time this sucker goes airborne, it'll be covering the earth before anyone figures out what it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    With modern travel, the next time this sucker goes airborne, it'll be covering the earth before anyone figures out what it is.

    In answer to Mo: "analysis of DNA from victims in northern and southern Europe published in 2010 and 2011 indicates that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague" wiki

    One pathogen, different gross ways to die. Lovely!
    Yes. That's why the new ebola outbreak is scary.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Ebola and Marburg act so fast that people who get it usually don't have time to get on a plane before they are incapacitated.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    Ebola and Marburg act so fast that people who get it usually don't have time to get on a plane before they are incapacitated.
    It would just take one landing in a major city.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    ebola, like many diseases, has an incubation period where you can be a walking bio weapon infected everyone you come into contact with before you become symptomatic
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Strains like Ebola Zaire are blood-borne and not air-borne. So, you have to come into contact with bodily fluids of someone infected to contract it. The monkeys that died in Reston, however, had a strain that was airborne, but could not be contracted by humans.

    ETA - I was mistaken about the incubation period. It's 2 to 21 days. That's a disturbingly long time. I'm also seeing that the latest cases have actually spread from a rural area (where they are usually found) to an African capital city (Conakry, Guinea) with 2 Million people.

    They now believe the natural host is fruit bats - which some people eat.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    it couldn't be contracted by humans yet, but give that virus time to mutate and maybe it will. anyway, we don't need ebola to have a worldwide plague. the plain old flu managed to kill 50 million people in the 1918 epidemic, and that was before air travel.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    it couldn't be contracted by humans yet, but give that virus time to mutate and maybe it will. anyway, we don't need ebola to have a worldwide plague. the plain old flu managed to kill 50 million people in the 1918 epidemic, and that was before air travel.
    Definitely. I thin that I read a while back that that what killed people was not the Spanish flu directly, but some kind of response in the lungs that was in reaction to the flu.

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    Seth, nowadays we call it Death of Color, not BLACK Death. It's not PC.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Or the Western European Death!
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    The people who went to work and coughed and sneezed on everyone else instead of staying home when they were sick death! Kinda like some co-workers I could name.
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    Vouchity-vouch-vouch!!!!
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    Elite Member BITTER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ConstanceSpry View Post
    The people who went to work and coughed and sneezed on everyone else instead of staying home when they were sick death! Kinda like some co-workers I could name.
    My boss has spread more colds around the office this way. If I or anyone else gets sick, she insists we go home and not spread our germs around. But when she's sick, she has to show up because she thinks she's expected of her. But she's spreading her germs. Military bases are notorious for "crud" - nasty colds and flus any time of the year. I had a nasty one in boot camp in the middle of June. In Florida. Miserable.
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