Skip to comments.Plague returns as deadly threat
Posted on 01/16/2008 3:56:30 AM PST by BGHater
LONDON Plague, the disease that devastated medieval Europe, is re-emerging worldwide and poses a growing but overlooked threat, researchers warned on Tuesday.
While it has only killed some 100 to 200 people annually over the past 20 years, plague has appeared in new countries in recent decades and is now shifting into Africa, Michael Begon, an ecologist at the University of Liverpool, and colleagues said.
A bacterium known as Yersinia pestis causes bubonic plague, known in medieval times as the Black Death when it was spread by infected fleas, and the more dangerous pneumonic plague, spread from one person to another through coughing or sneezing.
"Although the number of human cases of plague is relatively low, it would be a mistake to overlook its threat to humanity, because of the disease's inherent communicability, rapid spread, rapid clinical course, and high mortality if left untreated," they wrote in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine.
Rodents carry plague, which is virtually impossible to wipe out and moves through the animal world as a constant threat to humans, Dr. Begon said. Both forms can kill within days if not treated with antibiotics.
"You can't realistically get rid of all the rodents in the world," he said in a telephone interview. "Plague appears to be on the increase, and for the first time there have been major outbreaks in Africa."
Globally the World Health Organization reports about 1,000 to 3,000 plague cases each year, with most in the past five years occurring in Madagascar, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The United States sees about 10 to 20 cases each year.
More worrying, he said, is that outbreaks seem to be rising after years of relative inactivity in the 20th century. The most recent large pneumonic outbreak comprised hundreds of suspected cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.
Bubonic plague, called the Black Death because of black bumps (buboes) that sometimes develop on victims' bodies, causes severe vomiting and high fever. Victims of pneumonic plague have similar symptoms without the black bumps.
Dr. Begon and his colleagues called for more research into better ways to prevent plague from striking areas where people lack access to life-saving drugs and to defend against the disease if used as a weapon.
"We should not overlook the fact that plague has been weaponized throughout history, from catapulting corpses over city walls, to dropping infected fleas from airplanes, to refined modern aerosol formulation," the researchers wrote.
I am glad it’s an election year.
Oh boy ... Just as I was becoming acustomed to the possibility of being blowed up by an asteroid, or drowned by Gorebull's warming, I must now consider getting hit by a rotting corpse, or bit to death by fleas.
Some days it doesn't pay to get up.
I wonder what the transmission mechanism is between rodent and human. This ought to be stoppable.
Being a Monty Python fan, I must say that I think modern warfare would be substantially improved if the weapons were restricted to "horrible things you can throw" and nothing more. Catapults and trebuchets can be pretty effective. Think of the possibilities...
can't stay in bed either...remember the whole thing about 'bed bugs'?
crikey....we're not safe anywhere!
(I'll do the obligatory, "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!")
there....now i can start my day
I think it's infected fleas. Carried by the rodents, jump to humans.
I had this mental picture of rats biting people while they slept, but it seems to me to be preventable if that was the case.
Let’s hope the plague doesn’t transform enough to be carried by mosquitoes.
If I remember correctly, the Bubonic Plague is still carried by rodents in the deserts in the US (Utah and the region), but I'd have to look that up.
The Reuters editors have been dropping acid again. Anyone know where, when and to whom this actually happened?
Funny, eh? Another "we're all gonna die" article that finally gets around to saying the problem is in Africa. If we just send some more money into the rat-hole, AIDS, or malaria, or plague, or hunger, or despotism in the "world" can be eliminated.
This is wrong on so many levels.
...During an infamous biowarfare attack in 1941, the Japanese Military released an estimated 150 million plague-infected fleas from airplanes over villages in China and Manchuria, resulting in several plague outbreaks in those villages.
If true, jeepers, they're hardy little beggars....
Thanks. I’m amazed Reuters didn’t try to blame it on the US during Vietnam or Iraq.
The rat flea is extremely durable. They can live quite a while without a blood meal. I know of one case in the US where a friend’s baby contracted plague from fleas in the carpet of a house that had been vacant 4 months. Unfortunately she didn’t survive.
> The Reuters editors have been dropping acid again. Anyone know where, when and to whom this actually happened?
Use of fleas as biological weapon
Operation Big Itch used uninfected fleas to determine the coverage patterns and the suitability of the tropical rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis, formerly termed the oriental rat flea) in terms of survival and appetence. The field trials were conducted at Dugway Proving Ground in September of 1954. The trials used guinea pigs, placed at stations along a 660-yard circular grid, to detect the presence of fleas.
Originally intended for use as an anticrop weapon, the E-14 and E-23 munitions were converted to vector munitions for the field trials. The E-14 munition was a 13-inch-diameter, 9 3/4-inch-long cardboard container with an internal actuator that released carbon dioxide, a piston that moved to expel its contents, and a small chute for clustering the E-86 aerial bomb. The E-23 munition was a 9 3/4-inch-diameter, 18-inch-long cardboard container with an external actuator that reversed a plastic bag to expel its contents. It too included a small chute for clustering the E-77 aerial bomb. Both weapons functioned at 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground level after release from the cluster bomb, and Operation Big Itch proved a success. Using a functioning height lower than that originally intended, the weapon proved capable of covering a battalion-sized target and disrupting operations for a 24-hour period.
An important consideration was the use of carriers. The carriers allowed the fleas access to air and moisture to keep them alive during delivery. The Japanese filled their Uji bombs with sand and plague fleas. The United States considered two methods: sponge fragments and small paperboard tubes with crepe paper streams to keep the open end closed when rolled. Using the sponge fragments, the E-14 carried 100,000 fleas and the E-23 carried 200,000. Because half of the E-23s failed to function in preliminary tests, only the E-14 was used for the remainder of Operation Big Itch. The E- 14 was capable of carrying 80 loop tubes, each containing 3,000 fleas. (15)
True. The disease affects wild rodents in a large area of the West, and from time to time people catch it.
Well, technically the Commissioner is correct: Rats don’t cause food-borne illness. Last time I checked there were nearly 20 disease capable of infecting humans that could be carried by rats, but none of them are food borne.
FWIW, if I lived in NYC, I don't think I'd be too thrilled with the commissioner's parsing :)
I’m headed for NYC Friday. I think I’ll eat canned tuna and Top Ramen while I’m there, just like when I went to Nairobi.
Infected fleas. It’s very prevalent in my part of NM, and infact a lday died last year from it. The usual path is house cats getting infected by catching various rodents, and the cats bring the fleas into the house.
You are right, the plague bacillus is endemic to some parts of the Western US in rodents. Watch out for fleas when you are hunting.
..this is all we need to know, to know this is JUNK..
“..Michael Begon, an Ecologist”...
A greenie posing as a medical ‘expert’, again.
Little girl coloring Moses and the burning bush so I have a moment.
I told hubby about this article and the first thing he said was, "You can't get anything over on God."
Nope. I wonder if this plague will return.....as one of THE plagues....
That may not make sense, we were talking about his removing his protective hand from us slow but surely. In reference to Israel.
The plaques. Scary.
She’s finished, see you after classes.
“Last time I checked there were nearly 20 disease capable of infecting humans that could be carried by rats, but none of them are food borne.”
Salmonellosis is commonly carried by rats and is also a foodborne disease.
But if America is *gone* for all intents and purposes....by the end times discussed in Scripture....the “slow” part may be what we are now in....and when the plagues occur....His hand would already be completely removed.
Just a thought.
later. : )
And man-made global warming (for which Bush is also responsible). :)
Easy. It's the heat from global warming which Bush refuses to control.
I smelled it.
“New study blames Columbus for syphilis spread” ~ blam
January 15, 2008
Columbus Got Syphilis from Native Americans
RUSH: But first, before we get into all of that, let’s start with asking those of you who are relatively youthful, say those of you who graduated haskrool in the last 15 years during the multicultural takeover of the American haskrool curriculum, how many of you have been taught that Christopher Columbus brought syphilis, racism, sexism, homophobia, and environmental destruction to the New World, when he came here from the Old World? How many of you have been taught that? It’s a shocking number, I am sure. The truth now has finally come out. The spread of syphilis across the globe was probably sparked by Columbus and his crew, who arrived in the New World sterile. They did not bring syphilis with them. They got it from the Native Americans. That’s the latest research. And then once Columbus and his crew contracted syphilis, the bacteria, whatever it is, when they went back to the Old World, bammo! — it spread like the plague.
“A comparison of 23 strains of Treponema pallidum bacterium found that the modern variety that causes the sexually transmitted disease was most closely related to bacteria collected from a remote tribe in Guyana. Because the tribe has had little contact with the outside world, researchers think the strain is very close to what was circulating in the Americas at the time of Columbus’ voyage in 1492. The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases—” Ha! That’s the name of the magazine. Would you love to have a subscription to that? Ha, ha! The Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases. What would the centerfold in a magazine like that be? Anyway, it “adds more fuel to the long debate over the origin of syphilis. ‘There are loose ends, but ... it looks as if it’s very interesting evidence pointing to New World treponematosis being the ancestor of venereal syphilis,’ said Della Collins Cook, a physical anthropologist at Indiana University in Bloomington who was not involved in the study. But other experts argued that the study’s findings were still not strong enough to overturn a theory that venereal syphilis in Europe evolved from local strains.” So you have to have the critics in there. But the latest research, ladies and gentlemen, is that Christopher Columbus’ gang arrived clean and pure as the wind-driven snow, and then they got in a little whoopee with the Indians in Guyana, and, bam, syphilis was then taken to the rest of the world.
That’s not new. I heard the same thing about the origin of syphilis years ago. I guess it was a fair trade. The Indians gave Europe syphilis and Europeans gave them smallpox.
You remember correctly. The much loved (by mewling liberal envirotypes) Prairie Dog is one such carrier.
Yes, we have it here in New Mexico. Every summer there a few cats that die of it, once in a while a person gets it.