Biology of Plagues: Evidence from Historical Populations

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Cambridge University Press, Mar 29, 2001 - Social Science - 420 pages
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The threat of unstoppable plagues, such as AIDS and Ebola, is always with us. In Europe, the most devastating plagues were those from the Black Death pandemic in the 1300s to the Great Plague of London in 1665. For the last 100 years, it has been accepted that Yersinia pestis, the infective agent of bubonic plague, was responsible for these epidemics. This book combines modern concepts of epidemiology and molecular biology with computer-modelling. Applying these to the analysis of historical epidemics, the authors show that they were not, in fact, outbreaks of bubonic plague. Biology of Plagues offers a completely new interdisciplinary interpretation of the plagues of Europe and establishes them within a geographical, historical and demographic framework. This fascinating detective work will be of interest to readers in the social and biological sciences, and lessons learnt will underline the implications of historical plagues for modern-day epidemiology.
 

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 Epidemiological concepts
21
3 The biology of bubonic plague
47
4 The Great Pestilence
81
the plague at Penrith in 159798
115
6 Pestilence and plague in the 16th century in England
149
a metapopulation study
175
8 Plagues in London in the 17th century
192
9 Plagues in the provinces in the 17th century
225
a case study
261
a study of largescale metapopulation dynamics
284
an outbreak of bubonic plague?
338
13 Conclusions
352
References
396
Index
410
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About the author (2001)

Susan Scott is a research worker in historical demography in the School of Biological Sciences, at the University of Liverpool.

Christopher J. Duncan is Emeritus Professor of Zoology also in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool.