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Gerbils not rats caused bubonic plague

 
 
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2015 04:12 am
Actually it was fleas, but gerbil, not rat fleas.

From the BBC.

Quote:
Black rats may not have been to blame for numerous outbreaks of the bubonic plague across Europe, a study suggests.

Scientists believe repeat epidemics of the Black Death, which arrived in Europe in the mid-14th Century, instead trace back to gerbils from Asia.

Prof Nils Christian Stenseth, from the University of Oslo, said: "If we're right, we'll have to rewrite that part of history."

The study is in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Black Death, which originated in Asia, arrived in Europe in 1347 and caused one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history.

Over the next 400 years, epidemics broke out again and again, killing millions of people.

It had been thought that black rats were responsible for allowing the plague to establish in Europe, with new outbreaks occurring when fleas jumped from infected rodents to humans.

Rat reservoir

However, Prof Stenseth and his colleagues do not think a rat reservoir was to blame.

They compared tree-ring records from Europe with 7,711 historical plague outbreaks to see if the weather conditions would have been optimum for a rat-driven outbreak.

He said: "For this, you would need warm summers, with not too much precipitation. Dry but not too dry.

"And we have looked at the broad spectrum of climatic indices, and there is no relationship between the appearance of plague and the weather."
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 2,958 • Replies: 53

 
TheSubliminalKid
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2015 04:50 am
@TheSubliminalKid,
Sorry, forgot to post a link.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31588671
0 Replies
 
carloslebaron
 
  0  
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2015 08:03 am
This is why I love the current way to broadcast news by modern new agencies.

The title of the article in your link says:

"'Gerbils replace rats' as main cause of Black Death"

But, in the content of the article what you read is the following:

Quote:
The team now plans to analyse plague bacteria DNA taken from ancient skeletons across Europe.

If the genetic material shows a large amount of variation, it would suggest the team's theory is correct.


In other words, by now, what the entire article is simply saying is: if...
TheSubliminalKid
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Feb, 2015 09:43 am
@carloslebaron,
carloslebaron wrote:

This is why I love the current way to broadcast news by modern new agencies.


A lot more than basic grammar it seems. It's a new theory based on analysis of figures, like most science, it needs further checking. I just thought it might interest people.

Btw, a vile Holocaust denier has no place arguing the historical veracity of anything. Go back under your rock.
carloslebaron
 
  -2  
Reply Fri 27 Feb, 2015 09:19 am
@TheSubliminalKid,
Quote:
A lot more than basic grammar it seems. It's a new theory based on analysis of figures, like most science, it needs further checking. I just thought it might interest people.

Btw, a vile Holocaust denier has no place arguing the historical veracity of anything. Go back under your rock.


Hypothesis of Holocaust in WW2 deniers might not be good in grammar, but they surely can read.

IF, IF, IF, IF, IF,...

That is what the article is about, IF...

No sounded evidence that gerbils caused the bubonic plague, but such is a simple theoretic alternative that has not been proved true but that has been presented over the table.

Gas Chambers didn't exist in Nazi concentration camps, this is the only valid fact.

Only vil ignorants believe the contrary.

farmerman
 
  4  
Reply Fri 27 Feb, 2015 09:27 am
@carloslebaron,
sounds like you've been socking away a coupla gerbils up the cloaca carlos.
You may try to interpret facts your way but you cannot deny their existence .
carloslebaron
 
  -3  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2015 10:09 am
@farmerman,
The potential of the new theory promises a new plausible alternative.

It is a fact today the gerbils reproduction increases due to seasonal weather, and so forth, but this is not a solid indication that hundreds of years ago the seasonal weather in that zone of the world was "exactly" the same as today.

Europe passed a dark -literally "dark"- centuries seasonal climate which caused great changes not only in agriculture and production of goods, but also about domination of land, like the invasion of Muslims to Europe.

We can't compare the reproduction of gerbils in those centuries with their reproduction today as of being the same.

For this reason, and many more, this new alternative -based in "today's fact"-is in need of a deep review. You just can't make conclusions overpassing several factors that might have influenced in former centuries the behavior of plants, animals and people.

The article itself -not so its title- agrees with the reality that this alternative is not a solid fact, but many more studies will be taken in place and see what the result is.

From my part, I have no objection at all to accept any new alternative to explain the propagation of the plague. And, on the contrary, it should be great to finally found the cause of such a plague propagation.

Right now, the alternatives are open, the point is that no one can be declared as the valid one, and this is what I have pointed here.



0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Mar, 2015 10:56 am
No single reason explains the plague. The Black Rat is too territorial to spread anything quickly and the plague broke out in areas that didn't rat proof their pigeon coops. The Gerbil explains some, but not all occurrences of the plague. The Black Rat carried it on ships from port to port. The Gerbil population exploded in good conditions and pushed the plague out of Asia towards where the Black rat could carry it on.

To explain the symptoms, they have had to invent three different types of Plague, two of which have never been seen. We still don't know everything about the transmission for as I said before it appeared in areas that didn't rat proof their pigeon coops. The only known type of plague has appeared in India before anti-biotics and it didn't spread despite what should be ideal conditions. Some doubt that Bubonic Plague struck alone, that other unknown diseases broke out at the same time. This would certainly explain the different symptoms that were recorded and the problems with transmission.
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Fri 13 Mar, 2015 11:27 am
@Ionus,
If you read the article you see these are initial findings. You could always email the university to give them the benefit of your undoubted expertise. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Mar, 2015 11:54 am
@izzythepush,
I had no idea the plague tugged at your emotions like that. Makes me glad I didn't include all I knew about it, you could have had a fit.
farmerman
 
  5  
Reply Sat 14 Mar, 2015 06:35 am
@Ionus,
genomic studies had linked the evolution of Y pestis to the original human pathogen ,Y psudotuberculois. The relationships between the two genomes seems to conclude that Yp rose from Y pseudo, about 10 to 20K years ago nd the source animals (discounting the actual zoonotic-the flea) were the Marmot of Western China.
How it got pushed into Europe(via gerbils) sounds pretty reasonable since rats aren't as species hardy to the cold and wet conditions where the plague seemed to thrive.
Gerbils lived among the marmot populations in the wild and seeing it develop a flea based enzootic condition seems reasonable.

Gday ionus
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Mar, 2015 09:20 am
@farmerman,
Howdy farmerman...did you miss me ?? Very Happy

One of the problems with understanding the plague is they have had to invent two types they have never seen...Pnuemonic which is suspected of being airborne and Septicemic which involves the blood.

The only version that has been seen in the last 100 yrs is Bubonic, occurring mainly in isolated outbreaks in India. It is known this time it was started by the flea on the black rat but it didn't spread. It was stationary without any efforts to combat its spread like quarantining a town. This is probably due to the black rat (Rattus rattus) being very territorial. It was also brought under control without modern anti-biotics by the people who contracted it either dying or getting better.

As an interesting sideline, if you have anti-plague DNA from both parents then you probably can not get HIV and AIDS. Meaning your ancestors got the plague and survived...given the high mortality rate from it, that is no mean achievement.

It would seem the plague that kept occurring for a few hundred years was not only Bubonic but occurred at the same time as other diseases. I was interested to see your comment Bubonic plague might be related to Y psuedotuberculosis. Many people of the time had tuberculosis, I wonder if that might explain Pnuemonic Plague? Airborne spreading would be very hard to contain.

I have also wondered if Septicemic might be related to the high incidence of venereal disease, meaning that if you had VD and got the plague it produced the Septicemic symptoms.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 05:35 am
@Ionus,
my ancestors used to catapult plague infected corpses intothe small towns of Eastern Europe.
One of the first examples of biological warfare ever.
The relationship to pseudotuberculosis was a genetic derivation. There were over 50 different alleles that both pestis and pseudotuberculosis had flipped about with several that were only unique to pestis. So it looked like both bubonic and pneumonic had arisen by good ole evolution and pneumonic arose when the disease became more airborne from victims who developed lung infection. Pneumonic then never needed rats or mice or gerbils to spread it. It may have been the agent that caused "plague" to spread so rapidly in the late 14th century. .

Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 08:44 am
@farmerman,
That certainly is possible but it is a theory awaiting evidence. In the meantime we should consider the possibility that Pneumonic Plague is not related to Bubonic. There is a Wikipedia on Pneumonic Plague that says it has been caught in recent times from dissecting animal tissue. No references though... Wink
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 01:48 pm
@Ionus,
Could be, though they did arrive almost simultaneously in several towns in Sicily and Venice.
Pneumonic is the more virulent that's true. pope Clement 6's physician survived bubonic and then wrote about his "methods" in hi surgery text.Although he did come up with tuff we still use in medicine (bndages,intubation), some of of what he wrote about the forms of Plague wed doubt (butter n honey wraps on the bubos)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_de_Chauliac
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 02:04 pm
Some contemporary historians of medicine believe that the disease might have been anthrax, but there is not a wide consensus for that hypothesis. This is a wide skepticism, though, that it was any form of plague, and that speculation has been growing in recent years. This précis of research from Pennsylvania State University includes the reasons that some medical historians don't think it was plague:

Quote:
Modern bubonic plague typically needs to reach a high frequency in the rat population before it spills over into the human community via the flea vector. Historically, epidemics of bubonic plague have been associated with enormous die-offs of rats.

“There are no reports of dead rats in the streets in the 1300s of the sort common in more recent epidemics when we know bubonic plague was the causative agent,” says Wood.

Instead of being spread by animals and insect vectors, the researchers believe that the Black Death was transmitted through person-to-person contact, as are measles and smallpox. The geographic pattern of the disease seems to bear this out, since the disease spread rapidly along roadways and navigable rivers and was not slowed down by the kinds of geographical barrier that would restrict the movement of rodents.


This article at Science Blogs dot com summarizes some of the theories of what the disease might have been. It includes this argument for anthrax::

Quote:
This theory was bolstered somewhat by the discovery of anthrax spores in a plague pit (burial site for plague victims) in Scotland as well as the discovery of recorded symptoms during the Black Death not indicative of Y. pestis.


It is worth pointing out that in the 14th century, it was not called the black death--that's one of those very frequent cases of an historian somewhere at sometime coming up with a "sexy" name for an event, which then becomes popular. In England, it was known as the Great Mortality, a reasonably descriptive name. The other nations of Europe all used a similar name.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 02:19 pm
@Setanta,
That's an old popular chestnut by two guys Drncour nd Ruaolt in the 1990's. Subsequent genetic testing of remains and res in the mongol burials and in Sicily hve seemed to deteremine that Y. pestis was genetically tgged as the source of the "Plague".

Ill listen to any evidence but the genetic stuff was from 2011

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 02:24 pm
I really don't give a rat's ass what you'll listen to. The Penn State paper was dated 2002. The Science Blogs dot Com article is dated 2008. If you actually read the posted material, you'd have seen that many medical historians think that there could have been several diseases in action in the 14th century.
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 02:44 pm
@Setanta,
Oh . did I deign to challenge the great Set? Wow, you seem to go off the rails really easy. Discussions are usually give and take, why not take a lesson or two and try to compose yourself a bit?



My sources re: genetic testing is from 2011 (lessee that's at least 2 years more recent).

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111025/full/478444a.html


Doesn't seem like the anger management has kicked in yet.





Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Mar, 2015 03:33 pm
@farmerman,
Report about the Plague of Justinian (6–8th centuries) in The Lancet (from 2014):Yersinia pestis and the Plague of Justinian 541–543 AD: a genomic analysis
0 Replies
 
 

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