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M. Porcius Cato

Gallic War death toll

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I apologise if I veer between our specific thread and paleopathology/toxicology, but I cant divorce them in my own head. If I give a small quote from Alistair Lax "Toxin"

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Toxin-Bacterial-Po...4374831?ie=UTF8

 

this might put some perspective on the odds of distinguishing a specific identifiable cause of epidemic mortality (at any stage in history!):

 

"many people consider the first description that ties with the symptoms of true plague are those of the [Justinian event] 540 .It appears that plague is a relatively new disease , the complete DNA of Y.Pestis (isolated 2000) shows remarkable similarity to Y.pseudotuberculosis- (essentially a bad stomach bug..you may have had it yourself as "gastro enteritis"), ....Y .pestis seems to be in a state of genetic flux having recently found a new niche "lifestyle"...emerging from Y.t somewhere between 500 and 20,000 years ago...as the Justinian episode was 1,500 years ago the "latest" date is 540...the time frame (above) is incredibly short in evolutioonary terms...so that first event could have had an extra virulence as it was its first visitation to a host population without antibodies"

 

Might we not conjecture therefore that "unvisited populations" first touched by a new mutation toxin are doubly at risk, and a co-factor (which appeared in the Justinian and Medieval plagues) was a period of very bad weather conditions (cold/wet) for a period of years.A disease with a very slow "re-apperence" event timing will always kill heavily, as no residual immunity remains.

 

General grist for the mill.

 

PS so what the weather like in Gaul then?

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