The #Justinianic #Plague: An inconsequential #pandemic? (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, abstract)

[Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

The Justinianic Plague: An inconsequential pandemic?

Lee Mordechai, Merle Eisenberg, Timothy P. Newfield, Adam Izdebski, Janet E. Kay, and Hendrik Poinar

PNAS first published December 2, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1903797116

Edited by Noel Lenski, Yale University, New Haven, CT, and accepted by Editorial Board Member Elsa M. Redmond October 7, 2019 (received for review March 4, 2019)

 

Significance

The Justinianic Plague (circa 541 to 750 CE) has recently featured prominently in scholarly and popular discussions. Current consensus accepts that it resulted in the deaths of between a quarter and half of the population of the Mediterranean, playing a key role in the fall of the Roman Empire. Our contribution argues that earlier estimates are founded on a small subset of textual evidence and are not supported by many other independent types of evidence (e.g., papyri, coins, inscriptions, and pollen archaeology). We therefore conclude that earlier analyses of the mortality and social effects of the plague are exaggerated, and that the nontextual evidence suggests plague did not play a significant role in the transformation of the Mediterranean world or Europe.

 

Abstract

Existing mortality estimates assert that the Justinianic Plague (circa 541 to 750 CE) caused tens of millions of deaths throughout the Mediterranean world and Europe, helping to end antiquity and start the Middle Ages. In this article, we argue that this paradigm does not fit the evidence. We examine a series of independent quantitative and qualitative datasets that are directly or indirectly linked to demographic and economic trends during this two-century period: Written sources, legislation, coinage, papyri, inscriptions, pollen, ancient DNA, and mortuary archaeology. Individually or together, they fail to support the maximalist paradigm: None has a clear independent link to plague outbreaks and none supports maximalist reconstructions of late antique plague. Instead of large-scale, disruptive mortality, when contextualized and examined together, the datasets suggest continuity across the plague period. Although demographic, economic, and political changes continued between the 6th and 8th centuries, the evidence does not support the now commonplace claim that the Justinianic Plague was a primary causal factor of them.

Justinianic Plague – first plague pandemic – Late Antiquity – plague – Yersinia pestis

Keywords: European Region; Plague; History; Society.

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#Plague in #Zimbabwe from 1974 to 2018: A review article (PLOS Negl Trop Dis., abstract)

[Source: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

OPEN ACCESS / REVIEW

Plague in Zimbabwe from 1974 to 2018: A review article

Amon Munyenyiwa , Moses Zimba, Tamuka Nhiwatiwa, Maxwell Barson

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Published: November 21, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007761

 

Abstract

Plague is a zoonotic disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and is transmitted through the bites of infected rodent fleas. Plague is well known for causing 3 major human pandemics that have killed millions of people since 541 A.D. The aim of this Review is to provide an overview of the epidemiology and ecology of plague in Zimbabwe with special emphasis on its introduction, its potential reservoirs and vectors, and possible causes of its persistence and cyclic outbreaks. To achieve this, we carried out a search and document reported plague outbreaks in Zimbabwe. In the country, human plague cases have been reported in Hwange, Nkayi, and Lupane since 1974. The highest number of cases occurred in 1994 in the Nkayi district of Matabeleland North Province with a total of 329 confirmed human cases and 28 deaths. Plague is encountered in 2 different foci in the country, sylvatic and rural. Risk factors for contracting plague in the country include man-to-rodent contact, cultivation, hunting, cattle herding, handling of infected materials, camping in forests, and anthropic invasion of new areas. Plague is now enzootic in Zimbabwe, and the most recent case was reported in 2012, hence its effective control requires up-to-date information on the epidemiology and ecology of the disease. This can be achieved through continuous monitoring and awareness programs in plague-prone areas.

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Citation: Munyenyiwa A, Zimba M, Nhiwatiwa T, Barson M (2019) Plague in Zimbabwe from 1974 to 2018: A review article. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 13(11): e0007761. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007761

Editor: Janet Foley, University of California Davis, UNITED STATES

Published: November 21, 2019

Copyright: © 2019 Munyenyiwa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Keywords: Plague; Zimbabwe.

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#Animal #Exposure and #Human #Plague, #USA, 1970–2017 (Emerg Infect Dis., abstract)

[Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Volume 25, Number 12—December 2019 / Dispatch

Animal Exposure and Human Plague, United States, 1970–2017

Stefanie B. Campbell, Christina A. Nelson, Alison F. Hinckley, and Kiersten J. Kugeler

Author affiliations: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

 

Abstract

Since 1970, >50% of patients with plague in the United States had interactions with animals that might have led to infection. Among patients with pneumonic plague, nearly all had animal exposure. Improved understanding of the varied ways in which animal contact might increase risk for infection could enhance prevention messages.

Keywords: Plague; Pneumonic Plague; Human; USA; Zoonoses.

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Field #assessment of #insecticide #dusting and #bait station #treatment impact against #rodent #flea and house flea species in the #Madagascar #plague context (PLoS Negl Trop Dis., abstract)

[Source: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

OPEN ACCESS /  PEER-REVIEWED / RESEARCH ARTICLE

Field assessment of insecticide dusting and bait station treatment impact against rodent flea and house flea species in the Madagascar plague context

Adélaïde Miarinjara  , Soanandrasana Rahelinirina , Nadia Lova Razafimahatratra, Romain Girod, Minoarisoa Rajerison , Sebastien Boyer

Published: August 6, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007604 / This is an uncorrected proof.

 

Abstract

Bubonic is the most prevalent plague form in Madagascar. Indoor ground application of insecticide dust is the conventional method used to control potentially infected rodent fleas that transmit the plague bacterium from rodents to humans. The use of bait stations is an alternative approach for vector control during plague epidemics, as well as a preventive control method during non-epidemic seasons. Bait stations have many advantages, principally by reducing the amount of insecticide used, lowering the cost of the treatment and minimizing insecticide exposure in the environment. A previous study reported promising results on controlling simultaneously the reservoir and vectors, when slow-acting rodenticide was incorporated in bait stations called “Boîtes de Kartman”. However, little evidence of an effective control of the fleas prior to the elimination of rodents was found. In this study, we evaluated bait stations containing insecticide powder and non-toxic attractive rodent bait for their potential to control rat fleas. Its efficacy was compared to the standard method. The impact of both methods on indoor and outdoor rodent fleas, as well as the human household flea Pulex irritans were analyzed at different time points after treatments. Bait stations did not cause any significant immediate or delayed reduction of rat fleas and increasing the number of operational bait stations per household did not significantly improve their efficacy. Insecticide ground dusting appeared to be the most efficient method to control indoor rat fleas. Both methods appeared to have little impact on the density of outdoor rat fleas and human fleas. These results demonstrate limited effectiveness for bait stations and encourage the maintenance of insecticide dusting as a first-line control strategy in case of epidemic emergence of plague, when immediate effect on rodent fleas is needed. Recommendations are given to improve the efficacy of the bait station method.

 

Author summary

Insecticide ground dusting inside houses is the recommended measure to control rat fleas responsible for bubonic plague transmission. The main inconvenience of this method is the direct contact of houseowners to the toxic insecticide dust and spillage in environment. A bait station approach, where the insecticide is confined in a box or tunnel containing rodent attractant, seems to be a valuable complementary or alternative vector control tool. However currently, little is known about its real efficacy on reducing or eliminating fleas harbored by rats. Guidelines regarding its implementation (density and duration of use) as vector control tool are lacking. Those questions were addressed during a field trial study, where bait stations were deployed at different densities per household and followed up at different time points. The efficacy of bait station was compared to the standard method. The present study allowed to demonstrate that bait station approach requires more improvements to be efficient. Meanwhile, insecticide ground dusting is still recommended for to control rat fleas during epidemics.

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Citation: Miarinjara A, Rahelinirina S, Razafimahatratra NL, Girod R, Rajerison M, Boyer S (2019) Field assessment of insecticide dusting and bait station treatment impact against rodent flea and house flea species in the Madagascar plague context. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 13(8): e0007604. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007604

Editor: José Reck Jr., Instituto de Pesquisas Veterinarias Desiderio Finamor, BRAZIL

Received: February 5, 2019; Accepted: July 4, 2019; Published: August 6, 2019

Copyright: © 2019 Miarinjara et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the manuscript and its Supporting Information files.

Funding: This work was supported and funded by Institut Pasteur de Madagascar. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Keywords: Plague; Bubonic plague; Fleas; Rodents; Insecticides; Madagascar.

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Pervasive #Arctic #lead #pollution suggests substantial #growth in #medieval #silver production modulated by #plague, #climate, and #conflict (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, abstract)

[Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Pervasive Arctic lead pollution suggests substantial growth in medieval silver production modulated by plague, climate, and conflict

Joseph R. McConnell, Nathan J. Chellman, Andrew I. Wilson, Andreas Stohl, Monica M. Arienzo, Sabine Eckhardt, Diedrich Fritzsche, Sepp Kipfstuhl, Thomas Opel, Philip F. Place, and Jørgen Peder Steffensen

PNAS first published July 8, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904515116

Edited by Eric W. Wolff, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and accepted by Editorial Board Member A. R. Ravishankara June 13, 2019 (received for review March 15, 2019)

 

Significance

Detailed lead pollution measurements in an array of 13 ice cores spanning nearly half the Arctic showed surprisingly similar temporal variability during the past 2 millennia until the Industrial Revolution. Lead pollution increased by 250- to 300-fold from the Early Middle Ages to the 1970s industrial peak, reflecting large-scale emissions changes from ancient European silver production, recent fossil fuel burning, and other industrial activities. Pronounced decadal-scale increases coincided with exploitation of new mining districts, technology development, and periods of economic prosperity, while decreases coincided with climate disruptions, famines, major wars, and plagues. Despite midlatitude pollution abatement policies that reduced Arctic lead pollution by >80% since the 1970s, recent levels remain 60-fold higher than at the start of the Middle Ages.

 

Abstract

Lead pollution in Arctic ice reflects large-scale historical changes in midlatitude industrial activities such as ancient lead/silver production and recent fossil fuel burning. Here we used measurements in a broad array of 13 accurately dated ice cores from Greenland and Severnaya Zemlya to document spatial and temporal changes in Arctic lead pollution from 200 BCE to 2010 CE, with interpretation focused on 500 to 2010 CE. Atmospheric transport modeling indicates that Arctic lead pollution was primarily from European emissions before the 19th-century Industrial Revolution. Temporal variability was surprisingly similar across the large swath of the Arctic represented by the array, with 250- to 300-fold increases in lead pollution observed from the Early Middle Ages to the 1970s industrial peak. Superimposed on these exponential changes were pronounced, multiannual to multidecadal variations, marked by increases coincident with exploitation of new mining regions, improved technologies, and periods of economic prosperity; and decreases coincident with climate disruptions, famines, major wars, and plagues. Results suggest substantial overall growth in lead/silver mining and smelting emissions—and so silver production—from the Early through High Middle Ages, particularly in northern Europe, with lower growth during the Late Middle Ages into the Early Modern Period. Near the end of the second plague pandemic (1348 to ∼1700 CE), lead pollution increased sharply through the Industrial Revolution. North American and European pollution abatement policies have reduced Arctic lead pollution by >80% since the 1970s, but recent levels remain ∼60-fold higher than at the start of the Middle Ages.

ice core – lead pollution – Arctic  – plague – Middle Ages

 

Footnotes

1 To whom correspondence may be addressed. Email: Joe.McConnell@dri.edu.

Author contributions: J.R.M. designed research; J.R.M., N.J.C., A.S., M.M.A., S.E., D.F., S.K., T.O., P.F.P., and J.P.S. performed research; J.R.M., N.J.C., A.I.W., and A.S. analyzed data; and J.R.M., N.J.C., A.I.W., and A.S. wrote the paper.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. E.W.W. is a guest editor invited by the Editorial Board.

This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1904515116/-/DCSupplemental.

Published under the PNAS license.

Keywords: Arctic; Environmental Pollution; Middle Age; Plague; Wars.

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The next #chapter of #human – #plague #science (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, summary)

[Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, full page: (LINK). Summary, edited.]

The next chapter of human–plague science

Bryan S. McLean, Joseph A. Cook, Lance A. Durden, Eric P. Hoberg, and Robert P. Guralnick

PNAS first published June 28, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1908836116

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In PNAS, Jones et al. (1) provide an expert history of human–plague interactions across central Asia, and we support their thesis that zoonotic systems are best regulated using “control” rather than “eradication” strategies. Nonetheless, a control strategy is incomplete if it fails to acknowledge the critical role that modern biospecimen infrastructure plays in revealing historic and ongoing oscillations of host–pathogen systems. Recent environmental changes unique to central Asia (2), coupled with intensification of cultural and economic exchange in the region (i.e., China’s Belt and Road Initiative; ref. 3) demand approaches to pathogen control that are informed by the historic and …

(…)

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{1} To whom correspondence may be addressed. Email: bryansmclean@gmail.com.

Keywords: Yersinia pestis; Plague.

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#Human #response to live #plague #vaccine EV, #Almaty region, #Kazakhstan, 2014-2015 (PLoS One, abstract)

[Source: PLoS One, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

OPEN ACCESS /  PEER-REVIEWED / RESEARCH ARTICLE

Human response to live plague vaccine EV, Almaty region, Kazakhstan, 2014-2015

Zaurbek Sagiyev , Almas Berdibekov , Tatyana Bolger , Almagul Merekenova , Svetlana Ashirova , Zamir Nurgozhin ,Zhandos Dalibayev

Published: June 14, 2019 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218366

 

Abstract

Background

In Kazakhstan, a live plague vaccine EV 76 NIIEG has been used for plague prophylaxis since the mid-1930s. Vaccination is administered yearly among people living in plague-enzootic areas. Similar practices are used in other former Soviet Union countries. Yet, to this day, the effectiveness period of the vaccine is unknown. It is also not clear how different factors can affect the effectiveness of the vaccine over time.

Methods

We surveyed changes in antibody levels specific for F1 antigens of Yersinia pestis among vaccinated people 4, 8, and 12 months post- vaccination. Blood samples were taken from the participants of the study for producing sera, which was later analyzed using indirect hemagglutination reaction with antigenic erythrocyte assay (micromethod) for identifying antibodies to F1 Y.pestis.

Results

In first-time-receivers of the plague vaccine, antibody titer reached the highest level of antibody that represents a conditionally protective titer after 4 months, dropped drastically after 8 months, and dropped again after 12 months. Similar results were obtained among those who have been vaccinated previously. However, in that group, the percentage of people with a level of antibody that represents a conditionally protective titer remained statistically significant even after 8 and 12 months.

Conclusion

Based on the results of this study, we recommend initiating vaccination campaigns for the medical and veterinary staff, as well as the general population four months prior to the springtime epizootics of plague among wild rodents.

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Citation: Sagiyev Z, Berdibekov A, Bolger T, Merekenova A, Ashirova S, Nurgozhin Z, et al. (2019) Human response to live plague vaccine EV, Almaty region, Kazakhstan, 2014-2015. PLoS ONE 14(6): e0218366. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218366

Editor: Chandra Shekhar Bakshi, New York Medical College, UNITED STATES

Received: October 31, 2018; Accepted: June 1, 2019; Published: June 14, 2019

Copyright: © 2019 Sagiyev et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.

Funding: The study was conducted under FELTP CDC/CAR, 2013-2015 (CDC Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program) to ZS. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Keywords: Plague; Yersinia pestis; Vaccines; Serology; Kazakhstan.

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