The Black Death Is Doing Fine – And Becoming Resistant

from Contagions

Yersinia pestis-plague-black death“Tibet-Qinghai plateau region is where Yersinia pestis originated and the region where subsequent pandemics arose, I think its time to look more closely at regional outbreaks and case studies.

In this region, the marmot (Marmota himalayana) is the primary reservoir for Yersinia pestis. This large communal burrowing rodent is hunted by local Tibetan tribesmen for both meat and pelts. Butchering marmots has long been considered a risk factor for contracting plague via their fleas, aerosols or skin abrasions. To investigate the exposure of marmot hunters to plague, Chinese epidemiologists collected serum from 120 Qinghai villagers, 68 male hunters and 52 female family members, along with 120 negative controls from the non-endemic area of Beijing. None of the villagers or controls reported having a fever within the last two years.

The results are eye-opening and illustrates the importance of occupational exposure. Over a third of the male villagers had an antibody response to Yersinia pestis. Only 2% of their female family members produced an antibody response. Wether two fever-free years are enough time to determine if they had symptomatic plague in the past is an open question. Their letter to Emerging Infectious Diseases does not provide much information on the test subject’s histories or oral reports. [see more here LINK]”

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