The Black Death

Sidsel Barfoed sb34 at york.ac.uk
Sun Nov 10 09:35:23 EST 1996

   I have taken the liberty of subscribing to your list even though I am not a microbiologist. 

   My name is Sidsel Barfoed, I am a postgraduate student at the Department of History, the University 
of York, Great Britain. I am writing a dissertation on the Black Death in England 1348-50 seen from an
epidemiogical point of view.
  Too many historians use epidemiological data from the turn of the century, and I would like to bring 
the subject a bit more up to date.
  I allow myself to ask you the following questions:

1. Can mutations of Yersinia Pestis take place spontaneously in the wild? If so, how long would it take 
for a mutation to establish itself? I am referring to the following articles:
- R. Rosquist et al., "Increased Virulence of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis by two independent 
Mutations" (Nature, 1988, 11. August, pp. 522-525)
- B. J. Hinnebusch et al., "Role of the Yersinia pestis Hemin Storage (hms) Locus in the Transmission
of plague by Fleas" (Science, 1996, vol. 273, 19 July,pp. 367-370)

2. According to R. Rosquist et al. Y. pestis has mutated at some point of time, thereby increasing its 
virulence. Is there any way of determining when this mutation took place?

3. Is Y. pestis a "good" or "bad" parasite? I am referring to the article by R. M. Anderson and
R. M. May, "Coevolution of Hosts and Parasites" (Parasitology, 1982, vol. 85, pp. 411-426)

I hope you will be able to answer my questions. Should you find my subscribtion unsuitable, I will 
withdraw it immediately.

Yours sincerely

Sidsel Barfoed
sb34 at york.ac.uk

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