Plagues of Antiquity (Lec 3) Study notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies
Caroline Barakat

Plagues of Antiquity (Lecture 3) The 6 plagues of antiquity • Diseases of antiquity - 5000 BC to AD 700 • Characterized by parasites with long lived transmission stages • Involved person to person contact • Emergence of cities • New form of disease • More people • Less space and proximity • Urban life • High transmission rates • 8000 BC - human population settled in villages • Valleys of Tigris • Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia • The Nile river in Egypt • Indus in India • Yellow River in China • Agricultural revolution • Lead to the mergence of epidemic disease • Pre-dominant disease • Hunter-gatherer society • Today the blood fluke disease is called schistosomiasis or bilharzia • Schistosoma • Shistosoma mansoni • Live in blood vessels/veins close to bladder and intestines • Once in bladder, eliminated from body with urine or feces • 2/3 of eggs usually remains • Washed back into veins • Scatter/accumulate various organs • Earliest sign of infection occur within 1-2 months • Fever • Headache • Chills • Sweating • Headache • coughs Pharaoh's Plague - 1900 BC oHematuria endemic • Blood fluke disease oNile River in Egypt • Contaminated water oSnail fever • Bloody urine • Enlarged abdomens oThe destroyed city of Jericho • Deserted for 500 years oHypothesized that the water was infected with snails o Not necessarily fatal oMany remedies were noted in various papers found in tombs • Snail fever was at fault oCaused Egyptian civilization's demise • Persians overran Egypt 525 BC oMicroscopic parasite • Adult worms lived in tiny blood vessels oFirst Europeans to contract disease were Napoleon's Army during the invasion of Egypt (1799-1801) • Worm distomurn (two months) •Schistosomiasis = arithmetic disease • Severity of symptoms depends on the # of worms present •Generally associated with agriculture • Military problem Stages •Microscopic eggs •Adult worms • Enter body and resides in blood vessels •1799-1801 Europeans invaded Egypt •Snail fever is still present today • Certain environment encouraged the spread Diagnosis •Examination of stool and urine • Light microscope is used to find eggs Presently, schistosomiasis has not been eliminated •200 million people infected •More than 1 million deaths annually Southeast asia/western pacific •s. Japonicum 43 countries in Africa s. Haematobium or s, mansoni Americas s. Mansoni Plague of Athens - 420-436 BC •Athens vs. Sparta •431 BC • War lasted 27 years • Under the direction of Percicles •Greece • Healthy population •Athens' trade • Wine -> vineyards •
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