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Disease - marmots

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62781.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:41 am Reply with quote

Preamble: Now, on to this little chappie. Isn't he lovely? Aaaahhhh.

Question: How many people do you think owe their deaths this cute little animal?

Answer: Well over a billion.

Notes: The marmont - specifically the Bobak marmot found on the Russian and Mongolian Steppe - is particularly susceptible to a lung infection known as Yersinia pestis, more commonly known as The Plague. It spreads it around its neighbours by coughing, and passes it on to fleas, rats, and ultimately humans.

All the great plagues that have swept through from Eastern Asia to Europe have originated in the marmot in Mongolia and gone on to kill many hundreds of millions. In marmots and humans, the auxiliary lymphatic glands, under the armpits, become black and swollen ('buboes') and although marmot meat and fat is a delicacy amongst Mongolians, they will never eat the armpits of an animal because it 'contains the soul of a dead hunter'.

Bubonic plague was spread by marmots in Siberia in 1910, killing 60,000 people in 9 months. The plague spread to Manchouli, at one end of the Chinese Eastern Railway, quickly spreading east along 1,700 miles. Marmot skin had been in huge demand as a substitute for sable at the time, and hunters became the primary contact.

On 15th September 2005, ABC News reported that three mice infected with the bacteria responsible for bubonic plague apparently disappeared from a laboratory. The mice were unaccounted-for at the Public Health Research Institute, which is on the campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and conducts anti-bioterrorism research for the United States federal government.

During an outbreak in Europe in the 14th Century, Pope Clement at Avignon consecrated the whole of the River Rhône so that bodies that could not fit into the overcrowded churchyards could receive a Christian burial.

Plague outbreaks still occur in places like India (1994) and it is one of the three diseases listed by the CDC requiring quarantine (the other two being yellow fever and cholera).

Pictures As cute a Bobak marmot as you can find.

Reader's Digest, Jun 1985

Frederick The Monk
62811.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:32 am Reply with quote

Just to borrow Flash's Quibble hat again, there is still some debate over whether Yersinia Pestis was responsible for all mediaeval 'plague outbreaks (including the Black Death).

How do they know that the marmots don't get plague from being bitten by the fleas? I must admit I do like the idea of rude marmots coughing on fleas however.

62815.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:40 am Reply with quote

One of those links talks about the 'Plague Deniers' group, and very interesting reading it makes too. There is some evidence (in that link) that mentions that the marmot variety is the only variety that can be transmitted pneumonically (i.e. via coughing) by humans, which we know did happen. That's good enough for me. For the moment...

Frederick The Monk
62845.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:15 am Reply with quote

So that's pulmonary plague not bubonic or septicaemic plague?

62863.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:55 am Reply with quote

For the notes: links to the Edward de Bono idea about sending Marmite to the middle east (Marmite is bound to come up in the answers, and this gives Stephen something to do with it). Also Jumping Jack asserts that in the dorm at school he used to insert people's testes into Marmite jars one at a time, and that they subsequently couldn't get them out without breaking the jar.

If we do this on screen we might need to take the label off.

62900.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:11 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Jumping Jack asserts that in the dorm at school he used to insert people's testes into Marmite jars one at a time, and that they subsequently couldn't get them out without breaking the jar.

I expect he had to work his way up from Blackboard Monitor.

62905.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:34 pm Reply with quote

No, I think this was the gig he was given after he was fired from being blackboard monitor. It was a messy job, because of all the Marmite under the rim.

Why do they make the jars that shape, anyway?

62907.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 2:44 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Why do they make the jars that shape, anyway?

Because the chairman of the company was an old boy of Jumping's school, presumably.

Molly Cule
64527.  Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:48 am Reply with quote

Marmots look a bit like prairie dogs, which aren't dogs at all.. In 2003 in the US they were responsible for the outbreak of monkeypox, a disease common amongst monkeys that has been known to affect humans, in West africa and also once in the US, thanks to prairie dogs. The domestic prairie dogs apparently contracted the disease from a Gambian pouched rat in a Chicago-area pet store then spread the disease to their new owners.

Monkeypox causes lymph nodes to swell, fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, a general feeling of discomfort, and exhaustion. Oh.. and a rash, first on the face but sometimes initially on other parts of the body. The lesions usually develop through several stages before crusting and falling off. Pesky prairie dogs.


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