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Thread: Lost documents shed light on Black Death

  1. #1

    Lost documents shed light on Black Death

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/lif...cle1867919.ece
    Lost documents shed light on Black Death
    Simon de Bruxelles

    For centuries, rats and fleas have been fingered as the culprits responsible for the Black Death, the medieval plague that killed as many as two thirds of Europe’s population.

    But historians studying 14th-century court records from Dorset believe they may have uncovered evidence that exonerates them. The parchment records, contained in a recently-discovered archive, reveal that an estimated 50 per cent of the 2,000 people living in Gillingham died within four months of the Black Death reaching the town in October 1348.

    The deaths are recorded in land transfers lodged with the manorial court which – unusually for the period – sat every three weeks, giving a clear picture of who had died and when. The records show that 190 of the 300 tenants holding land in the town died during the winter of 1348-49, at a time when a form of bubonic plague spread by rat fleas would have been dormant.

    Experts now believe that the Black Death is more likely to have been a viral infection, similar to haemorrhagic fever or ebola, that spread from person to person.

    The records came to light after they were donated to the Dorset History Centre by a firm of solicitors in whose office attic they had been stored.

    The historian Dr Susan Scott, of the University of Liverpool, said the documents backed up her theory that the outbreak was not caused by bubonic plague.

    She said: “Bubonic plague relies on fleas breeding and it is too cold during winter in Britain for this to happen.”
    Actually, there is something that is even more interesting than these documents. It turns out that there is a gene that is common in the survivors of Black Death plagues Europe. These gene called CCR5-Delta 32 is a form of CCR5, one of two co-receptors that are present on macrophages and that is essential for HIV (Yes, the AIDS virus) to dock onto in order to infect immune cells. In tracing this gene in time, they find that it dates back to Europe about 700 years ago and is more prevalent in those towns and villages that had been decimated by Black Death. In 2001, Cantor, et al. found that people who carry CCR5-Delta 32 are resistant to AIDS. So, the speculation is that the Black Death was really a form of a virus that used CCR5 to or perhaps an early from of AIDS.

    Wise.

  2. #2
    Senior Member JCAT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/lif...cle1867919.ece


    Actually, there is something that is even more interesting than these documents. It turns out that there is a gene that is common in the survivors of Black Death plagues Europe. These gene called CCR5-Delta 32 is a form of CCR5, one of two co-receptors that are present on macrophages and that is essential for HIV (Yes, the AIDS virus) to dock onto in order to infect immune cells. In tracing this gene in time, they find that it dates back to Europe about 700 years ago and is more prevalent in those towns and villages that had been decimated by Black Death. In 2001, Cantor, et al. found that people who carry CCR5-Delta 32 are resistant to AIDS. So, the speculation is that the Black Death was really a form of a virus that used CCR5 to or perhaps an early from of AIDS.

    Wise.
    Dr Wise..

    Found this piece of information very interesting.. I like history, facts and legends.

    Most information I can across is that the epidemic plague came from commercial ships from China http://themiddleages.net/plague.html which sailed into Sicilian & Messianian Ports. The plague was carried into the European Cities where the epidemic spead rapidly through out the lands.

    It is possible that the only people that survived the plague carried the CCR5-32 gene? I read several articals and couldn't fine what STOPPED the epidemic plague or the spreading of the virus.

    J

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by JCAT
    Dr Wise..

    Found this piece of information very interesting.. I like history, facts and legends.

    Most information I can across is that the epidemic plague came from commercial ships from China http://themiddleages.net/plague.html which sailed into Sicilian & Messianian Ports. The plague was carried into the European Cities where the epidemic spead rapidly through out the lands.

    It is possible that the only people that survived the plague carried the CCR5-32 gene? I read several articals and couldn't fine what STOPPED the epidemic plague or the spreading of the virus.

    JCAT,

    It is a truism that a parasite must reduce its virulence or deadiiness, or else it would wipe out all its victims. Because the organism's existence depends on having victims, this means the organism would itself become extinct. Because we don't have any preserved tissues from victims of the Black Death, we don't know what the organism is. For a long time (and I was taught this in medical school), it was though to be the Bubonic plague, due to the term "Black Death" because victims of the Bubonic Plague turn black (due to subcutaneous hemorrhage). However, this was at best a conjecture.

    The CCR5-Delta32 gene is a remarkable finding because it also happens to confer resistance to AIDS. I was typing too quickly and the words got a little mangled in my first description. CCR5 is a receptor on macrophages and inflammatory cells that the AIDS virus uses to enter inflammatory cells. The Delta32 form of CCR5 apparently does not allow the AIDS virus to enter the cell. I don't think that the CCR5-Delta32 is what stopped the Black Death. I suspect that the virus itself mutated so that it no longer killed as many people. This happens with most viruses and infectious diseases. But, before it undergoes this mutation, it may have killed enough people to select out the CCR5-Delta32 mutant.

    The AIDS virus attaches to the inflammatory cells through CD4 and several co-receptors, including CCR5 (macrophages and other cells) and CXCR4 (T-cells). One copy of CCR5 (heterozygous) confers partial protection against AIDS. People who have two copies of the gene (homozygous) are virually immune to HIV infections. Only 1% of caucasinas are homozygous for CCR5-delta32. See http://www.thetech.org/genetics/news.php?id=13

    The discovery that CCR5 appears to be necessary for AIDS virus to infect people led to a flurry of studies to find way to block CCR5 receptor in humans. This would be very attractive because the people who are homozygous for CCR5-delta32 appear to be healthy. Much work is being done to find ways to block co-receptor CCR5 and CXCR4 (or fusin). Another potential target is CD4 itself, the main receptor. While CXCR4 appears to be located largely on T-cells, while CCR5 is located on a broad range of inflammatory cells that the AIDS virus gets into.



    Certain groups of people have a high prevalence of CCR5-delta 32. Up to 20% of Caucasians who live in Northern Europe have at least one copy. The CCR5-delta32 gene may have conferred resistance to Black Death and smallpox as well. Several studies suggest that the there may be a relationship between CCR5-delta32 and the Black Death. For example, in 1665, a town by the name of Eyam in England was hit hard by the Black Death. The town quarantined itself off for over year. By the end of the year, over half of the townspeople were dead. Researchers tracked donw the descendants of people of Eyam and looked for any mutations that could have explained their survival. The one mutation that was common to most of them was CCR5-delta 32. http://www.thetech.org/genetics/ask.php?id=10

    According to genetic analyses, the gene was relatively rare (although it has been present for as long as 2000-3000 years) until about 700 years ago, when it suddenly became much more prevalent. The following is a map of the prevalence of the gene in Europe. There is some speculation that smallpox may well have been involved. In 2003, two Berkeley professors published a study arguing that smallpox was the disease that selected for CCR5-delta 32. They did a population genetic model that suggested that Black Death was not sufficiently prevalent so that it could have resulted in the pattern of genetic distribution. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1120074728.htm



    Wise.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 06-02-2007 at 02:23 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member JCAT's Avatar
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    [quote=Wise Young]

    The CCR5-Delta32 gene is a remarkable finding because it also happens to confer resistance to AIDS. I was typing too quickly and the words got a little mangled in my first description. CCR5 is a receptor on macrophages and inflammatory cells that the AIDS virus uses to enter inflammatory cells. The Delta32 form of CCR5 apparently does not allow the AIDS virus to enter the cell. I don't think that the CCR5-Delta32 is what stopped the Black Death. I suspect that the virus itself mutated so that it no longer killed as many people. This happens with most viruses and infectious diseases. But, before it undergoes this mutation, it may have killed enough people to select out the CCR5-Delta32 mutant.
    After reading the attached links to your post I reread it.
    http://epcc.edu/Faculty/joeo/classrooms/why-reread.html I now understood more clearly the genetic(s) portion - (CCR5-Delta32) It took me the majority of the afternoon but, I learned something new and interesting.

    Thank you.

    J

  5. #5
    What a great article Mr Young!
    Very informative,great links and very adequate considering the recent death in the Canadian zoo caused by bubonic plague.
    Thank you.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JCAT's Avatar
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    [quote=MioaraD]
    What a great article Mr Young!
    Very informative,great links and very adequate considering the recent death in the Canadian zoo caused by bubonic plague.
    Thank you.
    Here is the article:

    http://freeinternetpress.com/story.php?sid=11870


    J

  7. #7
    Thank you JCat

    My mistake I thought of Colorado ,wrote Canadian,sorry.

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