Is the plague wave rolling across America or is it more scaremongering?
In 2016, four people in the United States died of some form of plague; this year, several US citizens became infected with the bacillus. The plague was one of the worst among the plagues. Is the USA now threatened by a plague of epidemics or is the Yellow Press hungry for news?
Prairie dogs and rabbits
In Coconino County, Arizona, a number of prairie dogs and rabbits were believed to have died from the plague in early August. The pathogen Yersinia pestis was found on the dead animals.
Since then, the local press has been trying to give advice on epidemics: Do not pet wild rabbits or strange cats, do not cuddle with prairie dogs, these are some tips that make sense on their own.
“Taken on its own” insofar as these tips are always correct. Wild animals can transmit diseases to humans. In the Grand Canyon, for example, the authorities use signs to warn of the “most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon”. It is not a rattlesnake or a puma, but a popular mountain squirrel that tourists like to feed and are reminiscent of A and B croissants at Walt Disney. With its bite, however, it can cause meningitis.
The plague was always there
The epidemic warnings put a plague flea in the ear in that the pathogen in America had never disappeared. Although there has not been an epidemic in over a hundred years, there has been a reservoir in the southwest, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado or Nevada.
The plague came with the immigrants
Yersina Pestis came to North America via a merchant ship during a plague epidemic that raged in Southeast Asia from 1894. The pathogen infected American rodents.
Wild animal infections
People who became infected in the United States were hunters handling affected croissants or prairie dogs; in the 1980s, a woman fell ill when she ran a lawnmower over a squirrel.
Where did the plague come from?
The origin of the great plague of the European Middle Ages probably lay in Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia. The plague bacterium exists there especially in steppe marmots, and plague waves regularly broke out when the rodents left their burrow.
How did the plague spread?
The steppe nomads of Central Asia did not live together in masses. If the epidemic raged in a camp, only a few people died. The Silk Road and especially Jing Khan's empire brought the plague bacteria to Western Asia and Europe.
Plague fleas on the Silk Road
The wild rodents presumably transmitted the plague to rats that traveled with the caravans of the Silk Road across Afghanistan to Iran, from there to Baghdad and Constantinople, and from there to Venice, Genoa and then to Central and Northern Europe. The time course of the plague waves coincides with the paths of the silk roads.
The plague was originally a zoonosis of marmots, rats and croissants. If people get infected directly from wild rodents, we speak of silvatic plague - the forest plague. Strictly speaking, steppe plague would be more appropriate. Since most people rarely come into direct contact with marmots or squirrels, such infections are rare.
Other animals also affected
The plague can affect around 200 mammals, including dogs and cats.
The bacterium Yersinia pestis triggers the disease. It is a mutation of
Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which is less dangerous to humans.
Distribution of intermediate hosts
How far the plague spreads depends on the intermediate hosts. If these live in large numbers in the environment of a large number of people, a plague epidemic can occur.
As bad as a nuclear war
The plague waves of the late Middle Ages hit Europe like a nuclear war and remained as a trauma in the memory of the continent. Only one in ten inhabitants survived in a single plague wave in some large cities.
Why was the plague so devastating?
The “Little Ice Age” began in the 14th century. The rat rats previously lived in the city trenches. Now they moved to the basement. People wore furs all year round, a paradise for rat fleas. The cold left people in the house much more than before.
The rat's flea
Rattus norvegicus carried the rat flea, and the pathogen Yersinia pestis. The population had also quadrupled since 900; the cities were crowded. So there were favorable conditions for the plague.
Since the first outbreak of the pes in Messina, incoming ships have been in quarantine for forty days. This did not prevent the rats from running ashore on the rope, and the pathogen conquered Europe.
Is the plague still a danger today?
In contrast to the Middle Ages, when people faced the plague helplessly, antibiotics, streptomycin and chloramphenicol or combinations of tetracyclines and sulfonamides help today. However, if the plague progresses and the pathogens penetrate the blood, the death rate is still very high today.
Plague wave in the US?
There is no threat of a plague wave in the USA. The danger only arises when the pathogen spreads among rats and thus comes close to humans. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)