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Ezra Harris
Ezra Harris

Black Plague (2002) [UPDATED]

So given the obvious circumstances I thought I'd try Black Plague out and it sucked! They did a cool job on the plague victim makeup, but that's really all. The plague itself was somewhat of a secondary plot element, which is fine, but the main plot was just awful... and largely felt like a dull excuse to show the audience some medieval style drawings of dicks. Well, it wasn't worth it!

Black Plague (2002)

As of 19 February 2002, the Ministry of Health, India hasreported a total of 16 cases of pneumonic plague including 4 deaths in Hat Koti village,Shimla district, Himachal Pradesh state, since the onset of the outbreak on 4 February2002. The series of tests carried out by the National Institute of CommunicableDiseases (NICD) confirm the presence of Yersinia pestis in clinical samples.

Modern bubonic plague typically needs to reach a high frequency in the rat population before it spills over into the human community via the flea vector. Historically, epidemics of bubonic plague have been associated with enormous die-offs of rats.

The researchers do not rule out the possibility that the Black Death might have been caused by an ancestor of the modern plague bacillus, which might later have mutated into the insect-borne disease of rodents that we now call bubonic plague. The fact is that we can only trace modern bubonic plague reliably back to the late 18th century or early 19th century, according to Wood. Who knows when it first emerged?

The first case of plague was introduced in Madagascar in 1898 in the east coast by way of boat from India. In 1921, plague reach the highlands and a large epidemic over the next twenty years. Until the beginning of the 80's, only of few case were identified, notified mostly in rural setting. However gradually it has re-emerged as a public health problem. Urban plague is located in the city of Antananarivo (resurgence in 1978 after 28 years of apparent silence) and in Mahajanga port (resurgence in 1991 after 63 years of silence). The reactivation of the Plague National Control Program from 1994 will allow better surveillance. The aim of this analysis is to update the epidemiological data on human plague in Madagascar based on reported cases obtained from the Central Lab of the Pasteur Institute of Madagascar from 1980 to 2001 (16,928 suspected cases of which 3,500 are likely positives or confirmed positives). The Plague season runs from October to March on the central highlands and July to November on the north-western coast. Sex-ratio male/female is 1.3/1, and the age-group of 5 to 25 years is more affected. The case fatality rate was 40% in the beginning of the 1980's, and decreased to 20% by the end of the 1990's. The percentage of case with pulmonary plague decrease from 15% to less than 5%. However, geographical extension is demonstrated: 4 districts in 1980, 30 districts in 1999 and 21 districts in 2001. In 2002, the diffusion of a new rapid test (reagent strip) in the primary health centres (CSB) in 42 endemic districts may help to decrease the morbidity and the letality due to plague and improve its control at the national level.

In 1343 the Mongols under Janibeg (who succeeded Özbeg in 1340) besieged Caffa and the Italian enclave at Tana (12), following a brawl between Italians and Muslims in Tana. The Italian merchants in Tana fled to Caffa (which, by virtue of its location directly on the coast, maintained maritime access despite the siege). The siege of Caffa lasted until February 1344, when it was lifted after an Italian relief force killed 15,000 Mongol troops and destroyed their siege machines (21). Janibeg renewed the siege in 1345 but was again forced to lift it after a year, this time by an epidemic of plague that devastated his forces. The Italians blockaded Mongol ports, forcing Janibeg to negotiate, and in 1347 the Italians were allowed to reestablish their colony in Tana (19).

There has never been any doubt that plague entered the Mediterranean from the Crimea, following established maritime trade routes. Rat infestations in the holds of cargo ships would have been highly susceptible to the rapid spread of plague, and even if most rats died during the voyage, they would have left abundant hungry fleas that would infect humans unpacking the holds. Shore rats foraging on board recently arrived ships would also become infected, transmitting plague to city rat populations.

Furthermore, a number of other Crimean ports were under Mongol control, making it unlikely that Caffa was the only source of infected ships heading west. And the overland caravan routes to the Middle East from Serai and Astrakhan insured that plague was also spreading south (Figure 1), whence it would have entered Europe in any case. The siege of Caffa, and its gruesome finale, thus are unlikely to have been seriously implicated in the transmission of plague from the Black Sea to Europe.

However, it is unlikely that the attack had a decisive role in the spread of plague to Europe. Much maritime commerce probably continued throughout this period, from other Crimean ports. Overland caravan routes to the Middle East were also unaffected. Thus, refugees from Caffa would most likely have constituted only one of several streams of infected ships and caravans leaving the region. The siege of Caffa, for all of its dramatic appeal, probably had no more than anecdotal importance in the spread of plague, a macabre incident in terrifying times.

Despite its historical unimportance, the siege of Caffa is a powerful reminder of the horrific consequences when disease is successfully used as a weapon. The Japanese use of plague as a weapon in World War II (29) and the huge Soviet stockpiles of Y. pestis prepared for use in an all-out war (30) further remind us that plague remains a very real problem for modern arms control, six and a half centuries later (31).

Dr. Ashok Chopra and a team of researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston published a study of the three newest candidates for plague vaccine in an online Nature Research journal npj Vaccines.

Japan may have spread plague-infected fleas in certain parts of China during World War II, and both the U.S. and the Soviet Union considered spreading the plague bacteria as an aerosol during the Cold War.

Left untreated, the bubonic form has a 40 percent to 70 percent mortality rate, and pneumonic and septicemic plague are virtually always fatal. In the pre-antibiotic era (1900-1941), the mortality among those infected with plague in the U.S. ranged from 66 percent to 93 percent. But antibiotics like streptomycin and gentamicin are used to treat all three strains now, so that mortality has been reduced to 11 percent.

It affects people in rural areas in central and southern Africa, central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the northeastern part of South America, and parts of the southwestern U.S. The three most endemic countries are Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru. According to the CDC, the U.S. sees an average of seven human plague cases reported each year. In 2015, there were 16 cases reported, including two teenagers who visited Yosemite National Park in California. Four of the 16 cases were fatal. As of early November, only four cases had been reported and all patients recovered, according to the CDC.

Vaccines for the plague do already exist, but they have some serious flaws. One made with dead bacteria is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but no longer manufactured. It only protected against the bubonic plague and not the more dangerous pneumonic plague.

About seven plague cases are reported across the United States each year, and the disease can be treated with antibiotics, according to the CDC. Worldwide, between 1,000 and 2,000 cases are reported to the World Health Organization, the CDC says.

Fleas that feed on infected rodents or other mammals typically transmit the plague bacteria. Researchers have said the case of Tull and Marker was pivotal in helping them understand why plague persisted in Santa Fe County, where the couple lived.

The Black Death was the fourteenth century's equivalent of a nuclear war. It wiped out one-third of Europe's population, taking million lives. And yet, most of what we know about it is wrong. The details of the Plague etched in the minds of terrified schoolchildren - the hideous black welts, the high fever, and the awful end by respiratory failure - are more or less accurate. But what the Plague really was and how it made history remain shrouded in a haze of myths. Now, Norman Cantor, the premier historian of the Middle Ages, draws together the most recent scientific discoveries and groundbreaking historical research to pierce the mist and tell the story of the Black Death as a gripping, intimate narrative. 041b061a72


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