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Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org
I was confident I knew a few things about the bubonic plague: It was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which was transmitted to humans by fleas hitching a ride on the back of traveling rats. It spread rapidly and devastated populations around the globe, and because cats, a natural predator of scurrying rodents, had been killed, rats proliferated along with their deadly, infectious cargo. However, until I read a recent PLoS ONE article, I did not realize there was still debate about whether Yersinia pestis was the infectious agent for Black Death, the disease that ravaged 14th century Europe and killed one third of its population. (more…)

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H1N1 Influenza

swine_flu_headlineIt’s hard not to panic in the light of recent pandemic fears and the frightening possibilities conjured up by the thought of a novel flu virus with the propensity for person-to-person spread (1-3). The specter of the 1918 pandemic has raised its ugly head, and we are left feeling intensely vulnerable to an invisible and ever-changing enemy. Have science and history left us more prepared to combat this virus than those who suffered during the devastating 1918 outbreak? (more…)

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