Plague Exam 1

Plague Exam 1 - Plague Biology The bacillus responsible for...

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Plague Biology The bacillus responsible for human bubonic plague today o Yersinia pestis (=Y. pestis) o Can vary in virulence o Is a bacterium (or bacillus), NOT a virus o Antibiotics can cure it Transmitted to humans with the assistance of o Xenopsylla cheopis (=X. cheopis) – a rat flea that can become “blocked” by growth of bacteria in its “proventriculus” o Rattus rattus (=R. rattus) – the common, black, house rat; called “commensal” because it shares our table One of many species of rodents that can become infected with Y. pestis Larger epidemiological patterns of Yersinia pestis o Optional online reading for Day 1 (Benedictow) offers a cancer metaphor: metastatic spread of the infection across western Europe o Plague as a human disease Humans are not the host species Disease is frightening and fast o Epidemics usually peak in later summer (northern hemisphere, temperate zone), about 4-6 weeks after infected rats die Bubonic plague vs Pneumonic Plague Length of illness longer with bubonic plague, and often the “bubo” or lymphatic swelling can be seen Pneumonic plague is a lung infection, but one that in historical records is difficult to distinguish from some other diseases. Once the lungs are infected, death is a near certainty, and those nearby can be infected via the respiratory track. They, too, are likely to die Epidemics of pneumonic plague are most likely to happen during the worst weeks of bubonic plague epidemics (when many ill at once) and during the colder months, when people huddle together to share the same indoor air spaces
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Before the Black Death: Plague at the end of the ancient world 700 years later: a second great collapse The Path of the Black Death to Europe H213 notes, 6 September 2011 NOTE: please bring the handout with two maps to class today. I will not have many extras available Overview of topics today: all drawn from the assigned reading * The Europeans’ larger “moment:” living in the expectation of apocalypse * Geographical origins of the plague: their maps and ours * Giovanni dei Mussis of Piacenza: what does this traditional story say?
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o Kaffa (or Caffa) -- a vivid story * Larger issues imbedded in today's topics Expecting the apocalypse * Prior to 1300: massive population growth and social change, but a persisting old idea that they needed to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ * Early 1300s: increasing pace of calamities o Malthusian? – the book goes into this topic at length, but it distracts us in today’s lecture; we’ll come back to it o Great famine of the 1310s in northern Europe: a big deal * Plague’s perceived origins in the East was linked to fears about the end of days (apocalypse) o Ancient apocalyptical texts & medieval additions had a geography of the apocalypse o Linked to maps different from our maps o Marco Polo’s book early 1300s * Medieval maps were cosmological maps of space and time: convergence at the end of days supposed to be at Jerusalem after “final battle” at Armageddon
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HIST-H 213 taught by Professor Charmichael during the Fall '11 term at Indiana.

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Plague Exam 1 - Plague Biology The bacillus responsible for...

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