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)
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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)