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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 In-class Notes

Health Studies
Course Code
Caroline Barakat

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-During hunter-gatherer society - predominant diseases were those with high transmission rates,
macro parasitic diseases (didnt require vectors for transmission), and STDs
-With move to agriculture - conditions favoured the emergence of epidemic diseases
-Emergence of cities - urban life; Uruk in Mesopotamia (3500 BC)
Plagues of Antiquity
-5000BC to 700 AD
-Characterized by parasites with long lived transmission stages (e.g. eggs, larva,...)
-Person to person contact
The Pharaoh’s Plague
-Evidence that it dates back to 1900 BC
-Thought to first have appeared in the Nile Valley of Egypt
-Agriculture, the inundation of the Nile, eventually irrigation created favourable conditions that
promoted the spread of the disease
-Disease now known as snail fever or blood fluke disease/endemic hematuria/schistosomiasis
-European invasion of Egypt (1799-1801) resulted in the first European experience with the
The Plague of Athens
-430 BC, epidemic started in Ethiopia, moved into Egypt, and was brought by ship to Athens
-The plague was blamed for the defeat of the Athens by the Spartans in a war that started in 431
BC and lasted 27 years
-Almost 1/4 of Athenians died including their leader “Percicles”
-Identity of this plague is unknown to this day
The Roman Fever
-Roman empire was established 27 BC - series of colonies
-Vast trade network emerged
-Malaria became prevalent
-Thought to result from the ‘bad air due to vapors released from marshes in the summer
-Epidemics occurred every 5 to 8 years
-In some areas, life expectancy was reduced to 20 years (compared to 40-50 years)
The Antonine plague
- AD 166 - brought to the Roman Empire by Roman troops from Mesopotamia
-Made its way to Europe
-Symptoms: high fever, inflammation of the mouth and throat, thirst, diarrhea, postules that
appeared after 9 days
-Identity of the plague not known - likely to be the 1st record of smallpox
The Cyprian Plague
-250 AD - believed to have originated in Ethiopia, moved to Egypt, and made its way to the
Roman colonies of North Africa
Lecture 2 - Plagues of Antiquity & Bubonic plague
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