Scientists Identify Bacteria in Justinian Plague

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by tulianr, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    LONDON (AP) — Scientists say two of the deadliest pandemics in history were caused by strains of the same plague and warn that new versions of the bacteria could spark future outbreaks.

    Researchers found tiny bits of DNA in the teeth of two German victims killed by the Justinian plague about 1,500 years ago. With those fragments, they reconstructed the genome of the oldest bacteria known.

    They concluded the Justinian plague was caused by a strain of Yersinia pestis, the same pathogen responsible for the Black Death that struck medieval Europe. The study was published online Tuesday in the journal, Lancet Infectious Diseases.

    The two plagues packed quite a punch. The Justinian Plague is thought to have wiped out half the globe as it spread across Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. And the Black Death killed about 50 million Europeans in just four years during the 14th century.

    "What this shows is that the plague jumped into humans on several different occasions and has gone on a rampage," said Tom Gilbert, a professor at the Natural History Museum of Denmark who wrote an accompanying commentary. "That shows the jump is not that difficult to make and wasn't a wild fluke."

    The plague is usually spread to humans by rodents whose fleas carry the bacteria.

    "Humans are infringing on rodents' territory, so it's only a matter of time before we get more exposure to them," Gilbert said.

    Still, he and other experts doubted a modern plague epidemic would be as devastating.

    "Plague is something that will continue to happen but modern-day antibiotics should be able to stop it," said Hendrik Poinar, director of the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University in Canada, who led the new research. He said about 200 rodent species carry the plague and could potentially infect other animals or humans.

    Poinar warned that if the plague transforms into an airborne version — which can happen if the bacteria reaches the lungs and its droplets are spread by coughing — it would be much harder to snuff out. That type of plague can kill people within 24 hours of being infected.

    Poinar said scientists need to sharpen their surveillance of plague in rodent populations to try averting future human infections.

    "If we happen to see a massive die-off of rodents somewhere with (the plague), then it would become alarming," he said.

    There are several thousand human cases of plague every year, most often in central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and parts of the Americas.
  2. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    I find it suspicious that they really got it from 1500year old 'victims'. That aside, even if they did, they basically recreated the virus, thereby having it here in present day and then are putting out warnings that there's a threat it could resurface. SERIOUSLY?! It did thanks to those jackoffs! This is why I really have no respect for the 'scientific' community. They are not taught to think outside their anuses. Wait would the plural be anuses or anui?

    That aside, gonna go off topic for a minute here, I remember studying the Justinian code in history class. It was pretty cool actually. Very harsh, pretty much any crime you committed was punishable by death, but despite the popular misconception that any time period before now was mysoginist(sp?)/sexist, the Justinian code did have crimes against women also punishable by death.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2014
  3. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey

    With the numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria rising all the time, I would and am suspicion of the claim that modern antibiotics could and would surpress any modern day out break of the plague..
  4. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    Kill it with fire! That or nuke it from orbit...its the only way to be sure!
  5. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey

    Out west we would need to kill off the squirrels who are the host for the fleas that carry the plague..
  6. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    @VHestin , you grow a virus to learn how it works, and what it does. It has no mind, and kills by what it messes up. There are still samples of bubonic plague under lock and key, so they can understand how to kill it, and how to stop it from killing you.
    At the time of the black death, they had no idea what was killing them, or what was causing it, or how to stop it. These lessons were Learned from the dead. And usually too late.
    The virus already existed, so these "jack offs" didn't cause it. They simply teased that sample to wake it up enough to study it. To kill the virus, without killing the patient, is the goal, and you can't do that without knowledge.
  7. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Not these days, the goal is to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. And people survived back then without current medical 'research'. You know, it's funny, when Europeans started coming over here, they brought alot of unknown diseases to the natives, which to me says the way of life of Europeans was unhealthy. As I recall, the plague was caused by fleas on rats. These days, simple hygiene will do wonders for keeping you healthy, as will eating more than just SnoBalls and potato chips(I can't believe I just said that:oops::oops:). And I don't believe the pharmaceutical companies really want to make us better, healthy people don't make them any money. I am pretty sure the reasons for studying it are not as altruistic as wanting to help the masses. The most neutral reason would be just to have the knowledge, and even that isn't so neutral, because you end up with people so intent on their research that nothing else matters.
  8. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

  9. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    I guess we're gonna have to agree to disagree on this score, @kellory.
    kellory likes this.
  10. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I guess we will. I believe in a profit margin. Profit is not a dirty word, and no company is in business to create jobs. If you can't make money at it, there is no reason in business to bother doing it. No profit=no production.
  11. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    But I'm still not giving up my SnoBalls. You will have to pry them from my cold dead mouth.
  12. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    I've read that practically all of the pandemic diseases made their way into the European populace as a result of animal domestication, and living in close contact with those animals; the diseases eventually being able to make the jump from animals to people. One such disease that we still see every year is influenza, being transmitted from swine and poultry.

    Since no Native American populations domesticated animals, they were particularly susceptible to these diseases. The European populations had already been inured to contact with these diseases and so while they still suffered from them, it wasn't even close to the level of devastation suffered by the Native Americans. Estimates range up to eighty-five percent of the Native American populations being wiped out within a century of their initial contact with the Europeans.

    Those diseases were also why enslaved Africans had to be imported to the new world; the populations of Africa, having had some contact with Europeans, weren't as vulnerable to the effects of European diseases. Native American populations had been decimated; some islands in the Caribbean being totally depopulated of native inhabitants.

    The lack of domesticated animals, particularly the lack of animals of burden, such as the horse, it is thought, was also major limiting factor in the power and sophistication capable of being achieved by the Native American civilizations. Many of those civilizations reached a high level, but never made the jump that the European civilizations were able to make with the horse and the wheel.

    (Sorry, I just open my mouth and trivia gushes forth sometimes.)
    kellory and Minuteman like this.
  13. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I suffer from that same affliction!! Or perhaps it is more apt to say that others suffer from it![beer]
    tulianr and kellory like this.
  14. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey

    Mine is just every day smart alec..
    Minuteman and tulianr like this.
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