Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Plague Comeback

Remember a few years ago when it was declared that smallpox was eradicated from the face of the earth? Then, a bunch of military people declared that it could be used as a weapon - thus the rationale behind the smallpox vaccine? I think that the tide is turning for some of these infectious diseases from long ago....

is reporting today that "The Plague" is making a comeback. You remember The Plague, don't you? This is the famous fatal illness from the middle ages. It even attained parody status. I mean if Monty Python makes a reference to Plague (see video clip above), you know it has to be funny (kind of).

Researchers at the University of Liverpool are reporting that Yersinia pestis (The Plague) is now showing up in African countries and that this should not be ignored. Over the past 20 years, Plague has killed some 100-200 people annually. This is a lot more people than I once thought.
"Although the number of human cases of plague is relatively low, it would be a mistake to overlook its threat to humanity, because of the disease's inherent communicability, rapid spread, rapid clinical course, and high mortality if left untreated," [researchers] wrote in the journal Public Library of Science journal PloS Medicine.
So, look out MRSA and E Coli - The old school diseases like The Plague, smallpox, and anthrax may be making a comeback - maybe even as terror weapons. That's kind of frightening to me. What's going to be next? The dreaded ebola virus? Yeesh!


Kb said...

I would think that seeing The Plague in Africa is not that shocking. What percentage of the population is HIV positive?

Maggie Rosethorn said...

There has been outbreaks of plague in the US in the past, and may still be (don't have access to the MMWR right now). Just because we don't hear of them doesn't mean they aren't around. They are often misdiagnosed because MDs of today aren't thinking of the zebras out there (and reasonably so). Berton Rouche's book The Medical Detectives (forget if it's book 1 or 2) has an interesting story of a little girl who caught plague while living in Denver, CO., I believe in the 1960's or 70's.

Unknown said...

The plague, the Iraq war, the Middle East conflict...it feels like the end of the world (again).

Only we hope we don't treat as lightly as we did AIDS.