Skip to comments.Black Death Bacterium Identified: Genetic Analysis of Medieval Plague Skeletons...
Posted on 09/03/2011 7:46:55 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
A team of German and Canadian scientists has shown that today's plague pathogen has been around at least 600 years.
The Black Death claimed the lives of one-third of Europeans in just five years from 1348 to 1353. Until recently, it was not certain whether the bacterium Yersinia pestis -- known to cause the plague today -- was responsible for that most deadly outbreak of disease ever. Now, the University of Tübingen's Institute of Scientific Archaeology and McMaster University in Canada have been able to confirm that Yersinia pestis was behind the great plague...
Previous genetic tests indicating that the bacterium was present in medieval samples had previously been dismissed as contaminated by modern DNA or the DNA of bacteria in the soil. Above all, there was doubt because the modern plague pathogen spreads much more slowly and is less deadly than the medieval plague -- even allowing for modern medicine.
The international team of researchers has for the first time been able to decode a circular genome important for explaining the virulence of Y. pestis. It is called pPCP1 plasmid and comprises about 10,000 positions in the bacterium's DNA. The sample was taken from skeletons from a London plague cemetery...
The researchers were also able to show that the plague DNA from the London cemetery was indeed medieval. To do that, they examined damage to the DNA which only occurs in old DNA -- therefore excluding the possibility of modern contamination.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...
Black Death Bacterium Identified: Genetic Analysis of Medieval Plague Skeletons Shows Presence of Yersinia Pestis Bacteria
Yersinia pestis, direct fluorescent antibody stain (DFA), 200x magnification. (Credit: CDC/Courtesy of Larry Stauffer, Oregon State Public Health Laboratory)
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
This reminds me, I have to pick up some more kleenex.
Why is this a mystery? Besides the obvious sanitation and living condition differences, the folks that lived through had a genetic reason for living through it. Those that died genetically are much less represented today than they were back then.
I am still not sure from reading these articles if the plague might of been a very virulent strain or that genetic resistance in the survivors just increased over time.
On a related note, did you hear about the plague researcher at the University of Chicago who died from it a couple of years ago?
The prairie dogs all around me have it. ;-)
CDC urges lab workers to wear protective gear after 2009 fatality at Illinois university
In November and early December 1970, I spent 24 days in a military hospital in Vietnam after contracting bubonic plague from a batch of defective vaccine. When I was released I weighed 65 pounds less that the day I entered. Plague is a very painful hemoghagic disease. It took 10 days for the doctors to identify what I had. None had ever seen a case before.
Wow. Just wow.
You need to write up that story.
Lost 65 lbs.? How much did you weigh initially?
Thank God they finally figured out what it was!
Personally, I believe the first event was the rediscovery of the Justinian Code.
Funny - I thought T.F. (terminal flatulence)was the cause of all those deaths ;o)
A certain percentage of Europeans are immune to it due to the Delta-32 mutation.
It also confers immunity to aids if the person has both copies, one from each parent.
If a person has only one copy, he is resistant to it, but not entirely immune.
Agreed. I’m not a scientist but I’m surprised that things like hygiene and exposure to many conditions unknown to most people today are not being considered. The diets back then were inferior in quality to today’s, leading to a less than stellar immune system to begin with. Couple that with constant exposure to feces, fleas, and every other contagion out there.... it’s probably a wonder more did not die! This disease was carried by a specific flea — feeding on specific rats...Given the lack of hygiene and regular exposure to rats and fleas for most people...not really a mystery that the disease, once contracted, would spread as rapidly as it did.
Awww, thank you. How romantic (seriously).
Say what??? Can you explain this?
"T.F. - it's nothing to sniff at."
In the 4 corners area of the south west it is rampant. It surfaces periodically killing off some Navahos and other tribes. It does indeed reside in the Prairie dogs of the area, but goes dormant for years and then breaks out again. Fortunately for the tribes in that area the doctors are familiar with it and the symptoms and most of the time they can get to the patient in time and if so then the cure is swift and easy. However, the longer a person waits to be treated the harder it is to cure.
Thanks. I’ll be watchful. It’s been at higher elevations for a long time, too, but we take some precautions. ...not many fleas, if any, up here but probably other possible ways of transmission.
> Lost 65 lbs.? How much did you weigh initially?
I went from 180# to 115# in 24 days.
> contracting bubonic plague from a batch of defective vaccine.
> Say what??? Can you explain this?
Sure. I needed to have my immunizations brought up to date in order to go on R&R.
Plague was one of the shots.
The batch was bad and contained live plague.
God bless you, Jack! That alone could have been fatal. You must have a cast-iron constitution. May you have it all your life.
Interesting that the medieval diseases that caused such terror and panic are still extant, but for the most part, we are barely aware of them.
When hundreds of thousands die of plague, one person’s infection is not news. But it is today.
“Plague Skeletons” would be a great name for a rock band.
(apologies to Dave Barry)
Small world too.
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