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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: archaeology; blackdeath; blackplague; bubonicplague; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; yersiniapestis

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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To: E Rocc
"Back then, people often had fleas too."

Yup. Mostly they did. I've read that the highly populated cities were hit harder than the isolated areas in the countryside. Most of the 'learned' people in the cities would have died and we would have started back again with mainly the country bumpkins, er?

21 posted on 04/12/2002 12:38:01 PM PDT by blam
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To: E Rocc
Carried by the Oriental Rat Flea to be exact.

I couldn't find anything on exhumation/harvesting evidence. Oh, well.

EBUCK

22 posted on 04/12/2002 12:39:38 PM PDT by EBUCK
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To: kd5cts
I'm not dead! I'm feeling better. I think I'll go for a walk.
23 posted on 04/12/2002 12:44:57 PM PDT by uglybiker
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To: uglybiker
Now stop that, you aren't fooling anyone.

a. cricket

24 posted on 04/12/2002 12:49:22 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: blam
There must be something somewhere we could check, huh?

The organism which, reputedly, causes plague [it was called Pasteurella pestis when I taught microbiology] is comparatively fragile outside of a living body. Doubtful if it could survive hundreds of years.

On the other hand, if the plague affected the northern parts of Scandinavia and Russia there might well be some victims buried in the permafrost. Odds [IMO] would be much higher to recover some of the caustive entity in this case.

25 posted on 04/12/2002 12:58:32 PM PDT by curmudgeonII
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To: blam
..."(We are the ancestors of the survivors of this plague, so presumably we have some immunity.)"...

We are NOT the ANCESTORS of survivors from the 1300s.....we are DESCENDANTS......unless you're r-e-a-l-l-y, r-e-a-l-l-y old!! LOL.

26 posted on 04/12/2002 1:04:59 PM PDT by Rowdee
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To: Rowdee
Didn't Mel Brooks do a 1000 year old man skit?

a.cricket

27 posted on 04/12/2002 1:06:36 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: curmudgeonII
The Iceman would have been a good candidate but he was much to early. They (finally) found a sample of the 1918 'Spanish Flu' (Which originated in Kansas) virus in a biopsy from a WW1 soldier that had been 'filed away.'
28 posted on 04/12/2002 1:11:00 PM PDT by blam
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To: laotzu
I agree.

What I've seen of rats, they're always around water, harbors, canals, ships, etc. Rivers would not be a barrier, but the perfect way for them to get around.

A fascinating article anyway. The plague supposedly killed off 1/3 of the population of Europe. Paintings by Pieter Breughel the Elder evoke feelings of what it may have been like in those times.

29 posted on 04/12/2002 1:11:13 PM PDT by Sam Cree
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To: blam
Doesn't bubonic plague respond to antibiotics?
30 posted on 04/12/2002 1:13:14 PM PDT by Sam Cree
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To: Rowdee
"We are NOT the ANCESTORS of survivors from the 1300s.....we are DESCENDANTS......unless you're r-e-a-l-l-y, r-e-a-l-l-y old!! LOL."

Yup. My mistake. I do the same with niece and nephew.

31 posted on 04/12/2002 1:13:24 PM PDT by blam
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To: another cricket
Didn't Mel Brooks do a 1000 year old man skit?

I also kinda liked Mel Blanc's Mexican skit (Sigh).

32 posted on 04/12/2002 1:16:21 PM PDT by lds23
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To: Sam Cree
"Doesn't bubonic plague respond to antibiotics?"

I think so and so does Lyme Disease, but notice how we panic over it.

33 posted on 04/12/2002 1:16:46 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Rats aren't the vector of the plague, fleas are. Humans had fleas almost universally then. Fleas can spread from human to human very rapidly. This one doesn't pass muster.
34 posted on 04/12/2002 1:43:37 PM PDT by CholeraJoe
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Comment #35 Removed by Moderator

To: blam
I didn't know Lyme disease responded, my sister in law is terrified of it
36 posted on 04/12/2002 2:33:05 PM PDT by Sam Cree
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To: blam
A river considered to be a barrier to plague?

The organism, Yersinia pestis, could cross via infective fleas using boats, dams, tree limbs, bridges, floating debris, swimming animals, or catapults.

Plague arrived on American shores around 1900 from Asia, probably on a vessel putting into San Francisco. It's now found throughout the western U.S., and there's NO getting rid of it.

37 posted on 04/12/2002 2:45:06 PM PDT by AngrySpud
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To: Sam Cree
"I didn't know Lyme disease responded, my sister in law is terrified of it"

If detected early, Lyme Disease is corrected with antibiotics fairly easily. It's has some pretty serious complications if not detected and treated early. (Late stage Lyme Disease requires months of intraveneous antibotics and even then, not always successful.) It can even cause serious mental problems.

38 posted on 04/12/2002 3:50:17 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Do you know what the symptoms are?

We're often bitten by those really small ticks during the summer in rural central Virginia. The small ones make such light footsteps that you don't necessarily feel them walking on you.

39 posted on 04/12/2002 3:58:50 PM PDT by Sam Cree
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To: Sam Cree
"Do you know what the symptoms are?"

At the site of infection/bite there will be a dark 'bullseye' pattern on/under the skin. If this is not detected (and treated), it will advance next into a condition described as 'flu symptoms.' In the advanced/later stages it gets really serious and is frequently not detectable, arthritis, fatigue, depression and mental confusion are just some of the symptoms. (It will vary somewhat from person to person) I thought I had it at one time and am still not sure I don't.

40 posted on 04/12/2002 4:16:13 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Thanks, usually a tick bite seems to resemble a pimple. I suppose the "bullseye" is more prominent?

Do you think symptoms still linger with you? Sounds a little scary.

41 posted on 04/12/2002 5:04:52 PM PDT by Sam Cree
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To: blam
I was unaware of the discovery of the organism that caused the "Spanish" flu. [I lost a grandmother and greatgrandmother to this disease; more people were killed by this disease in one province of India than died in both sides in World War I.]

I have heard a number of well informed experts opine that much of the virulence of this outbreak was due to a bacterium [in the Haemophilus genus as I recall] which occurred along with the influenza virus. Do you know if such an association was found and, if so, were any LD50 testings done?

42 posted on 04/12/2002 5:05:17 PM PDT by curmudgeonII
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To: curmudgeonII
"I have heard a number of well informed experts opine that much of the virulence of this outbreak was due to a bacterium [in the Haemophilus genus as I recall] which occurred along with the influenza virus. Do you know if such an association was found and, if so, were any LD50 testings done?"

Sorry, don't know about the bacteria angle or any other conclusions.

43 posted on 04/12/2002 5:28:26 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
This theory is nothing new. A few years back a scientist wrote a book arguing that the "black plague" was in actuality a combination of several different diseases, most particularly--get ready for this--anthrax.
44 posted on 04/12/2002 6:23:18 PM PDT by white rose
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To: white rose
"A few years back a scientist wrote a book arguing that the "black plague" was in actuality a combination of several different diseases, most particularly--get ready for this--anthrax."

We can guess a lot of things until we have a undisputed sample.

45 posted on 04/12/2002 6:38:16 PM PDT by blam
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To: another cricket
Didn't Mel Brooks do a 1000 year old man skit?

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner did a lot of "The 2000 Year Old Man" skits.

46 posted on 04/12/2002 8:01:10 PM PDT by chaosagent
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To: blam
We are the ancestors descendants of the survivors of this plague
47 posted on 04/12/2002 8:47:28 PM PDT by lepton
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To: All
The incubation period of the 'Black Death' appeared to be from one to seven days from exposure before symptoms would strongly manifest, although some symptoms, like fever and headache frequently showed up before others. Whatever the Black Death was, it attacked the lymphatic system first. The term 'bubonic' refers to a 'bubo', which is an enlarged and inflamed lymph gland in the neck, armpit and/or groin area. These could be from the size of an egg to an apple. Then, black and purple spots appeared on the skin, and a bad nosebleed occured, signs of the organism attacking other tissues in the body. Those that died usually did so within four days of the appearance of buboes. The mortality rate varied from 30-75%, depending on climate (cold & damp kills the sick) and care given to the infected.

The most rare and deadly form was the scepticemic plauge, with almost 100% mortality rate. This literally caused the blood to coagulate in the veins, causing the skin to turn black (thus the name, the Black Death). This is most similar in symptoms to a hemmoragic fever, like Ebola.

As the plauge progressed across Europe, it changed to a pneumonic plauge that attacked the lungs. Victims coughed up bloody mucus at first, then as the lung tissues broke down, the liquid became clear red fluid, flowing freely. Death quickly followed. The pneumonic plauge had a 90-95% mortality rate. Also, this type of plauge was air transmissable, and thus extremely infectious. Was this a rapid mutation of the bacterium/virus, or was it another bacterium/virus infection taking advantage of the victims of the original plauge and their overwhelmed immune systems? Thus, in its later stages, it could well have been a multiple organism plauge.

The plauge killed between one-quarter and one-half of the entire population of Europe. If it was in fact bacterial in nature, as originally believed, then a new outbreak could be effectively treated with antibiotics, unless a highly resistant form emerges or is genetically engineered. On the other hand, if it was viral in nature, it would be extremely difficult to treat. There are breakthroughs occuring today in anti-viral drugs and therapies, but right now vaccines are the only effective and feasible large-scale tool to control a viral plauge. Developing a vaccine takes time, and it takes even long to produce in large quantities. Once you've started to manifest serious symptoms, it9;s too late for the vaccine to help you. A new and unknown highly virulent and infectious viral plauge would be devastating, possibly as much so as the Black Death of 14th Century Europe. This is especially true of such an organism purposely introduced as a bioweapon, as those wielding such a weapon would certainly release it at multiple infection sites in places where it would be certain to be spread quickly, resulting in widespread infection before symptoms began to manifest in the first victims. This would make quarantene efforts very difficult and far less effective, as the plauge would be pandemic before we even knew it was present in the population.

One thing that such a modern plauge would likely repeat from the Black Death plauge is the total breakdown of the social order. Everyone would be afraid of everyone, and thus avoid all human contact outside of their own small intimate social group, family and maybe a few friend and neighbors. Of course, food shipments to cities would screech to a halt. The various governments would step in, but their effectiveness would be limited at best. Fear, anarchy, infrastructure breakdown, crime, emotional breakdown, even conventional or nuclear retaliation against suspected perpetrating nations, all would cause as much chaos as the disease itself. With modern citizens being so dependant on society and incapable of taking care of themselves, it would get very ugly very quickly.

48 posted on 04/12/2002 11:43:03 PM PDT by Vigilant1
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To: Vigilant1
Post #48. Very good overview. Thanks.
49 posted on 04/13/2002 7:42:57 AM PDT by blam
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks .

Note: this topic is from April 12, 2002.

Blast from the Past.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


50 posted on 09/03/2011 7:54:38 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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