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Black Death 'Was Not Plague' Say Experts
Ananova ^ | 4-12-2002

Posted on 04/12/2002 5:43:45 AM PDT by blam

Black Death 'was not plague' say experts

The Black Death may not have been caused by bubonic plague after all, say US scientists.

They have been looking at church records from the 14th century to find out how the disease spread.

They now think it was probably some other infection passed on by human contact and not bubonic plague which relies on flea-ridden rats.

Records show the disease spread along busy roads and rivers and over natural barriers which would have restricted rats.

They also say there are other diseases with similar symptoms which are more likely candidates.

The modern version of the plague usually occurs when there is an increase in the number of rat deaths - something not recorded during the 1300s.

Experts at Penn State University say an ancestor of bubonic plague might have been responsible, but if so it has evolved into something very different.

Bubonic plague was first suggested as the cause of the Black Death by 19th century doctors.

But Penn State's Dr James Wood said: "This disease appears to spread too rapidly among humans to be something that must first be established in wild rodent populations, like bubonic plague.

"An analysis of priests' monthly mortality rates during the epidemic shows a 45-fold greater risk of death than during normal times, a level of mortality far higher than usually associated with bubonic plague."

Story filed: 13:23 Friday 12th April 2002


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: antonineplague; archaeology; blackdeath; blackplague; bubonicplague; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; plague; plagueofathens; plagueofjustinian; yersiniapestis
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1 posted on 04/12/2002 5:43:45 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
So, what was it? The Flu?
2 posted on 04/12/2002 6:36:16 AM PDT by Darth Reagan
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To: blam
The modern version of the plague usually occurs when there is an increase in the number of rat deaths - something not recorded during the 1300s.

My quibble with this is that I doubt that this(a rat dieoff) would be considered of great importance at the time and that the records we have are no where near as complete as you would think.

I am not saying that they are wrong but that I think that this is a far to flimsy hook to hang this theory on.

a. cricket

3 posted on 04/12/2002 7:30:54 AM PDT by another cricket
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To: blam
The modern version of the plague usually occurs when there is an increase in the number of rat deaths - something not recorded during the 1300s.

My quibble with this is that I doubt that this(a rat dieoff) would be considered of great importance at the time and that the records we have are no where near as complete as you would think.

I am not saying that they are wrong but that I think that this is a far to flimsy hook to hang this theory on.

a. cricket

4 posted on 04/12/2002 7:30:55 AM PDT by another cricket
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To: another cricket
Sorry for the double post

Sorry for the double post

I promise I only hit the button once.

a. cricket

5 posted on 04/12/2002 7:32:10 AM PDT by another cricket
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To: another cricket
I've often wondered if we might check some of the 'bog mummies' from that period. They are apparently completely intact. Maybe find some antigens, huh?
6 posted on 04/12/2002 7:40:20 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Ancestor to AIDS but a lot faster?
7 posted on 04/12/2002 7:42:30 AM PDT by Just another Joe
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To: blam
Wouldn't the chemicals from the bog have caused enough changes in the mummy that this would be difficult?

a. cricket

8 posted on 04/12/2002 8:22:18 AM PDT by another cricket
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To: blam
"barriers which would have restricted rats"

It is these same barriers that have, for centuries now, have restricted rats from...where?

You would think someone who spends so much lab time with rats would not so pathetically underestimate them.

9 posted on 04/12/2002 9:38:35 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: laotzu
The barriers should have proven to slow down the spread of the disease if the disease were carried by rats. I don't think they are saying that the barriers kept rats isolated but that they certainly hamper the intermingling of rat populations necessary to spread the disease. And it seems that the data implies that there was no sign of barriers effecting the rate/ratio of exposure.

This was the age of exploration, who knows what African/Asian disease was aboard that ship to Italy (It was Italy wasn't it?)?

EBUCK

10 posted on 04/12/2002 10:50:14 AM PDT by EBUCK
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: lepton; bitwhacker
Bring out your dead! ping.
12 posted on 04/12/2002 11:04:20 AM PDT by JRandomFreeper
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To: another cricket
"Wouldn't the chemicals from the bog have caused enough changes in the mummy that this would be difficult?"

Not sure. Doesn't seem to affect the DNA but, I don't know about such things.

13 posted on 04/12/2002 11:43:37 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
I've often wondered if we might check some of the 'bog mummies' from that period.

Bog mummies are 1000, or more, years older than when the black death occurred.

14 posted on 04/12/2002 11:43:41 AM PDT by curmudgeonII
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To: seamole
"If they're lucky, maybe some live virus!"

Oops. Not so sure about that one. (Will you file this in the Gods, Graves, Glyphs section? I don't know how, thanks)

15 posted on 04/12/2002 12:15:04 PM PDT by blam
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To: curmudgeonII
"Bog mummies are 1000, or more, years older than when the black death occurred."

I was afraid that that was the case. (There must be something somewhere we could check, huh?)

16 posted on 04/12/2002 12:17:21 PM PDT by blam
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To: Just another Joe
"Ancestor to AIDS but a lot faster?"

Perhaps? (We are the ancestors of the survivors of this plague, so presumably we have some immunity.)

17 posted on 04/12/2002 12:20:21 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Actually the plague was supposedly passed not by rats directly, but the fleas the rats had.

Back then, people often had fleas too.

-Eric

18 posted on 04/12/2002 12:22:56 PM PDT by E Rocc
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To: blam
There have been exhumations performed on folks that supposedly died from the plague. There have also been supposedly successful "harvesting" exhumations. I'll look it up to see what they found.

EBUCK

19 posted on 04/12/2002 12:29:45 PM PDT by EBUCK
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To: EBUCK
"I'll look it up to see what they found."

Thanks. I'd appreciate it.

20 posted on 04/12/2002 12:34:36 PM PDT by blam
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