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The Great Manchurian Plague of 1910-1911The Geopolitics of an Epidemic Disease$
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William C. Summers

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780300183191

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300183191.001.0001

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The Plague's Origin: Disease Ecology

The Plague's Origin: Disease Ecology

(p.107) Chapter Five The Plague's Origin: Disease Ecology
The Great Manchurian Plague of 1910-1911

William C. Summers

Yale University Press

This chapter explores historical controversies surrounding the biology of the plague and its origins in Northeast China and Central Asia. It discusses how, since the great Manchurian plague first appeared in the border regions between Manchuria and Transbaikalia, in the very regions where antiqua biovars still exist and where the offshoot animal bv. microtus still is endemic in the marmot population, it is most unlikely that the radiation of orientalis biovar from the epidemic in Hong Kong was involved. The most parsimonious interpretation is that of simple direct spread from its ancestral home in Central Asia eastward into Mongolia and Manchuria. The chapter reveals that in the case of the Great Plague in Manchuria, new populations, new technologies, and new politics all contributed to the spread of Yersinia pestis and the disruption of the more or less stable equilibrium which existed in the traditional Asian communities of humans and marmots.

Keywords:   biology, marmot, epidemic, Asian communities, biovars

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