Thursday, September 08, 2011

A dish of Black Death

An article in the UK's Daily Mail outlines a new 'discovery' or find that seems to indicate that researchers have discovered the pathogen responsible for the dreaded black death..and apparently it is still about today!

"DNA taken from the skeletons of plague victims in medieval London has unearthed a shocking revelation – the Black Death is still present today.
Bodies of victims, who were buried in a mass ‘plague graves’ in the capital, show that part of the same sequence of genes still exists, hundreds of years later.
The Black Death claimed the lives of one-third of Europe's population in just five years from 1348 to 1353

In a rather cocky, and typically Brit-o-scientistic fashion the articles author delcares:
"Scientists have now confirmed that Yersinia pestis which is known to cause cases of the plague today was also responsible for the brutally damaging bubonic plague which almost wiped out Europe."

Not to worry though, because "t
he modern day bug spreads much more slowly and is far less deadly."

So, while no news is good also means no grants. The question is what becomes of this pathogen now it has been isolated and these scientists have their curiosity satiated (for now).  Sure some history books will be updated and there will be much talk about how the pathogen arrived etc (delivery);But what happens to the nasty little killer bug in a dish when all the rich guys send all the nerds home and close / change the lab?  Should we 'trust' them to eliminate this stuff. Is yet another genie now out of the bottle? Another Pandora's box opened by reckless curiosity?
What happens to the Dish of Black Death?
The soldier and the historian in me say 'weapon'.
The father and uncle say 'not again'. 

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