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Brown rats, black rats, spotted fever

K. Weber kweber at efn.org
Sat Dec 14 21:23:00 EST 1996

Thank you for your comments.  Since Rocky Mountain spotted fever and
Colorado tick fever are both red herrings introduced by others, it is hard
for me to exclude them.  The question is, what was the spotted fever that
accompanied bubonic plague in the London epidemic?  Was it septicemic
plague with the spots, presumably, being petuchaeii, and, perhaps, the red
tears of the child in the mid-80's diagnosis being related to these?  I
don't know what
the modern diagnosis of this child was.  The doctor said that it was a
disease previously called spotted fever.

The virulence of the disease closely resembled my sister-in-law's illness,
which I have described on bionet.virology.

As for the issue of a safer and healthier domestic rat, I do not see how
this could ever be attained without the participation of virologists.
Given a little bit of health, I could probably raise a hue and cry about
anything worthwhile.  My energy is limited and I would rather start with
solutions rather than problems.  There may be virologists out there who
would like a healthier rat for their children, and who might be willing
to breed the result. My rats both died within a few years of illness
which might have been virally related, and they are probable hosts of
rodent-borne viruses.  Their deaths were unnecessarily painful for the
children involved.  

About Hanta, which is probably what my sister-in-law had, I have wondered
whether its virulence waxes and wanes. I was
in a situation during pinenut season in 1973 when I became ill for about
four days with a flu-like illness which went to my chest.  I thought that
wiping the pinenuts on my jeans would be enough protection against the
dust on them.  I was in a group that had had little outside contact for
about two weeks, and no one seemed to catch this virus from me.  I had no
short-term post-viral symptoms from it.  I had had CFS as a child but had
consistent signs of it between 18 and 23.  This was when I was 21, which
was, as near as I 
can tell, the peak of the remission.  I have never been allergic to
rodents or dust.

I wonder whether weak strains of Hanta, collected in years when the virus
has little virulence, could be used to develop a vaccine for areas where
pinenuts are harvested.  This might prevent an epidemic outside of these


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