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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old January 18th, 2018, 08:37 PM   #21

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Originally Posted by Recusant View Post
An article from Snopes also discusses this misconception and its origin, as do many other sources.
Thank YOU.

I recall originally reading about the rhyme&plague thing in Time Magazine, way back when it seemed to be doing real news.

To be fair, they don't teach it in epidemiology class.
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Old January 18th, 2018, 08:52 PM   #22

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.
From Samuel Pepys diaries , there is the comment that the first victims were rats and dogs dying in great number .
it would seems possible than the orphaned lice had to seek new hosts ,
people would hardly differentiate if the lice biting them was their own or some lice refugee

it would explain the fast rise in the infection
I don't know of any parasitic lice, fleas, & tics that don't act this way:
When their host dies, it starts getting cold. They jump on the next warm thing that comes by. Do you recall fleas' propensity for jumping? Then they taste whatever it is.

This is why, under almost all circumstances, it is very unwise to come into contact with wild animals. I said I studied epidemiology. I studied WILDLIFE epidemiology, with some side effects on humans (like plague). The parasitology class scarred me for life.


In regards to another post, the author was correct: "city" rats don't wander the countryside and they don't mix with other species (unless of course they die and something else touches them). However, it's been documented that they're amazingly good at traveling around in carts, wagons, and especially boats. It's true that Phoenicians were the first to use ship's cats. There's a "legend" that they stole them from Egyptians in the first place and spread them around the Mediterranean, but I don't believe this. It assumes there was a time when cats WEREN'T everywhere.
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Old January 18th, 2018, 10:51 PM   #23

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Well it is primarily discussing the transmission of the bacillus and is using the Black Death 1347–1353 as its starting point. Bubonic plague has 2nd and 3rd reoccurances due to the persistence of the bacillus. If the first outbreak is spread by flea borne rats what other mechanisms exist for spreading it in later outbreaks? The question asked is, how can rat borne fleas be solely responsible when we have documented evidence of transmission by fleas in a bale of wool? The 2nd pandemic, the multiple reoccurances of the 14th to 19th cents are the best documented and that's why they can use it. They conclude also transmission by human borne fleas and lice.

The Justinian Plague of the 6th century is really only identifiable from Procopius of Caesarea. The reoutbreak in 7th century anglo saxon england only gets a couple of line mentions in the contemporary texts, there is no data with which any analysis can be made.

Procopius: The Plague, 542
My interpretation of that report is that a SIMULATION suggests that the majority of transmission was by human fleas. However, as you say, rodent transmission is well documented. That's how it got to the New World (shiprats).

It WAS transmitted by rodent fleas, and still is. The CDC says there are 1-17 cases in the US per year. Rat control in NY City is primarily to avoid plague. Prairie dog populations in the West harbor plague.

Usual transmission is by an insect vector. However, in about 20% of the cases it turns into "pneumonic" plague (bubonic has buboes ... skin pustules, pneumonic is lung based) and spreads VERY contagiously airborne via sneezing & coughing.

The current version of the plague is the same thing as the Black Death, equally as virulent. It no longer turns bodies grey, and I think the buboes are much less prominent, but it's exactly the same thing ... just mutated a bit (like viruses) over time.

There was a 1st century BCE physician named Dioscorides (there are a few of these) who wrote a book on a plague epidemic he witnessed in Libya. I believe Greece had plague around 300 BCE. Most of the diseases we deal with are ancient.

Last edited by Dios; January 18th, 2018 at 10:54 PM.
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Old January 18th, 2018, 11:22 PM   #24
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It appears that you didn't read my post earlier in this thread. Let me formally introduce you to Pulex irritans aka "human flea" aka "house flea."
You learn something new every day. Though some things I may have been happier not knowing,,,
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Old January 19th, 2018, 01:50 AM   #25
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My interpretation of that report is that a SIMULATION suggests that the majority of transmission was by human fleas. However, as you say, rodent transmission is well documented. That's how it got to the New World (shiprats).
Yes, the mathematics makes it clear that it is a model of the spread. My response to the previous post about the Justinian Plague which the poster thought should have been investigated more fully was that we don't have enough data from that plague against which the model can be tested.

William Rosen's book, Justinian's Flea is a highly interesting book and makes the same points as you do, that the bacterium, Yersinia pseudotuberculosi, mutated into something more virulent, Yersinia pestis and that fleas were the carriers. Procopius' account suggests ship born rats and Rosen asserts that it was the Xenopsylla cheopsis flea carried by the mediterranean black rat. The question this model seeks to answer is, is this the only mechanism? The answer, from the Eyam 'flea in a bale of cloth' suggests it isn't and so models can be hypothesised and tested as to other method of transmission. A review of Rosen's book is given below:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...uardianreview9
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Old January 19th, 2018, 03:48 AM   #26

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@ Dios , the cat dispersion theory is quite good , it would explain some of the felix spread
unfortunately there are quite a few roadblocks , Romans didn't have cats until the empire
they used stoats
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Old January 19th, 2018, 10:25 AM   #27

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The Two threads on this topic have been merged.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 11:32 AM   #28

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260 people died of Bubonic Plague in Eyam in Derbyshire in the 1660s. The village became exposed when infected fleas were released from a bale of damp cloth which had been sent up from London.

Rats play a part in a chain. The bacillus kills the rats too. They are not immune. But when rats die in their burrows, the bacillus survives and when new rats inhabit the burrow, they become infected again. Rats didn't walk from London to Derbyshire though and the observed 'leaps' from one place to another have to be mediated by some other mechanism.
The plague outbreak in Eyam was contained because the local vicar persuaded the local inhabitants to agree to stay within the village. Evidence for the outbreak can still be seen today. There are various clusters of marked graves around the village, testament to the fact that the village graveyard was quickly filled.

The leaps you mentioned may be due to the pneumonic form of plague which often follows the initial bubonic form. It is airborne, and spread by droplets coughed up by another person. It can be treated now, but in medieval times it was always fatal. This may well have been the kind which caused so much devastation in Britain during the Dark Ages.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 02:37 PM   #29
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The plague outbreak in Eyam was contained because the local vicar persuaded the local inhabitants to agree to stay within the village.

Yes, it is seen as an example of self sacrifice and, I think, represents the northerly limit of the spread in England because of this.
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Old February 6th, 2018, 05:26 PM   #30
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Something interesting


The plague doctors didn't actually do anything, but they did put some type of oil on there clothes for some reason they thought this would help. The fleas wouldn't be able to jump on the oil, partway preventing the doctors from getting the plague. A man during the time actually noticed the connection between the oil and the plague, but didn't connect it to fleas. So close to saving millions of lives.
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