Published On: Sat, Oct 18th, 2014

Justinian’s Plague and Ebola

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The Roman Emperor Justinian had started to rebuild the Roman Empire when the Mediterranean was hit by a plague that wiped out a third of the empire’s population. It had a similar devastating impact on the Persian Empire which made the rise of Islam much easier. Isolated and in small communities the population of the Arabian Peninsula were less affected.

Ebola is starting out small but our interconnected world and the three weeks that can go by without anybody showing any symptoms is a terrifying combination.

Great article about what could happen next.

“Ebola has an incubation period of some three weeks during which patients remain asymptomatic and, specialists assure us, noninfectious. However, it is known that some patients remain asymptomatic throughout, in spite of having a strong inflammatory response, and can infect others. Nevertheless, we are told that those who do not present symptoms of Ebola—such as high fever, nausea, fatigue, bloody stool, bloody vomit, nose bleeds and other signs of hemorrhage—cannot infect others. We are also told that Ebola can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual, but it is known that among pigs and monkeys Ebola can be spread through the air, and the possibility of catching it via a cough, a sneeze, a handrail or a toilet seat is impossible to discount entirely. It is notable that many of the medical staff who became infected did so in spite of wearing protective gear—face masks, gloves, goggles and body suits. In short, nothing will guarantee your survival short of donning a space suit or relocating to a space station.”

So what was Justinian’s plague?

“This plague, named after the Byzantine Emperor who was in power when it first appeared, can be considered one of the deadliest in all human history. When the plague first struck Constantinople in 541 AD, nearly 40% of the population was killed by the disease and thousands more died as it spread throughout the countryside and abroad.
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