Rats, lice, and history
Hans Zinsser: Presented by Ann Ming Samborski
The Argument 
Zinsser argues that:
“…infectious diseases are not static conditions, but depend upon a constantly changing ...
A Biography: Typhus
Conception took place when the first Rickettsiæ bacteria became parasitic on insects  
Gestation occur...
A Biography: Typhus (Continued)
The onset is unpredictable
First symptoms resemble a severe case of influenza 
A severe fe...
Rats…
Capable of fighting alone and in organized groups
Incredibly flexible to their environments (i.e. seasonal or climat...
Rats… (Continued)
Fear of rats prior to the time where their tendency to carry disease was known
Ancient Palestinian Jews ...
Lice…
Mallophaga (biting) lice
Animalcules (parasitic) lice [our main focus]
Anoplura (sucking) lice
As long as lice conti...
History!
More lethal than guns, cannons, and bayonets 
Typhus is the companion of war and revolution
Increased the destruc...
History… The Specifics! (Continued)
Typhus epidemics played a vital role in political decisions
30 Year’s War, Peloponnesi...
In short, 
“Typhus is not dead. It will live on for centuries, and it will continue to break into the open whenever human ...
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Rats, Lice, and History

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Rats, Lice, and History

  1. 1. Rats, lice, and history Hans Zinsser: Presented by Ann Ming Samborski
  2. 2. The Argument Zinsser argues that: “…infectious diseases are not static conditions, but depend upon a constantly changing relationship between parasite and invaded species” (Zinsser 88). The Evidence? Typhus
  3. 3. A Biography: Typhus Conception took place when the first Rickettsiæ bacteria became parasitic on insects Gestation occurred over the lengthy period of time it took for the bacteria to adapt from insect to animal and then from the insect to be passed on to man Birth is conjectured to have origin in the East but is seen for the first time in the 15th century in Europe Two varieties: Murine (rat-flea-human) and Classical (human)
  4. 4. A Biography: Typhus (Continued) The onset is unpredictable First symptoms resemble a severe case of influenza A severe fever Chills, depression, fatigue, head pain, delirium and muscle aches 4th or 5th day the rash erupts on the trunk region, fading from purple to brown as the days go on Without rash, diagnosis is uncertain
  5. 5. Rats… Capable of fighting alone and in organized groups Incredibly flexible to their environments (i.e. seasonal or climate) Vicious creature: destroys just about anything… literally Carries the diseases of both man and animal Transmitted Typhus by creating a habitat for polyplax (louse) or Xenopsylla (flea) In the time that rats reigned, so too did the worst epidemics
  6. 6. Rats… (Continued) Fear of rats prior to the time where their tendency to carry disease was known Ancient Palestinian Jews believed that rats were unclean and not suitable for human consumption Worshipers of Zoroaster despised water rats… to kill a rat was a service to god Apollo Smintheus, protector against disease, was also the killer of mice Saint Gertrude protected against plague and mice During The Plague, much European folklore mentions cats and dogs… the enemies of rats and mice
  7. 7. Lice… Mallophaga (biting) lice Animalcules (parasitic) lice [our main focus] Anoplura (sucking) lice As long as lice continue to thrive, epidemics remain possible Live on humans, rodents, clothing, animals…
  8. 8. History! More lethal than guns, cannons, and bayonets Typhus is the companion of war and revolution Increased the destruction of famine and flood Became entirely widespread: oceans, lands, etc…
  9. 9. History… The Specifics! (Continued) Typhus epidemics played a vital role in political decisions 30 Year’s War, Peloponnesian Wars, Fall of Rome, Maximilian II’s conquests of Hungary, Naples Imperial Army besieged by the French under Lautrec, Turks, Hungarians, Germans, 7 Year’s War, French Revolution, Napoleonic campaigns, Siege of Prague 1798: Typhus fades due to contained, shortened wars, better military medical care as well as railroads 1919: LOTS OF WARS… Typhus inevitably awoke (in Serbia)
  10. 10. In short, “Typhus is not dead. It will live on for centuries, and it will continue to break into the open whenever human stupidity and brutality gives it a chance, as most likely they occasionally will. But its freedom of action is being restricted, and more and more it will be confined, like other savage creatures, in the zoological gardens of controlled diseases” (Zinsser 301).

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