The ‘Hittite plague’, an epidemic of tularemia and the first record of biological warfare

The ‘Hittite plague’, an epidemic of tularemia and the first record of biological warfare A long-lasting epidemic that plagued the Eastern Mediterranean in the 14th century BC was traced back to a focus in Canaan along the Arwad-Euphrates trading route. The symptoms, mode of infection, and geographical area, identified the agent as Francisella tularensis , which is also credited for outbreaks in Canaan around 1715 BC and 1075 BC. At first, the 14th century epidemic contaminated an area stretching from Cyprus to Iraq, and from Israel to Syria, sparing Egypt and Anatolia due to quarantine and political boundaries, respectively. Subsequently, wars spread the disease to central Anatolia, from where it was deliberately brought to Western Anatolia, in what constitutes the first known record of biological warfare. Finally, Aegean soldiers fighting in western Anatolia returned home to their islands, further spreading the epidemic. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Medical Hypotheses Elsevier

The ‘Hittite plague’, an epidemic of tularemia and the first record of biological warfare

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0306-9877
eISSN
1532-2777
D.O.I.
10.1016/j.mehy.2007.03.012
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A long-lasting epidemic that plagued the Eastern Mediterranean in the 14th century BC was traced back to a focus in Canaan along the Arwad-Euphrates trading route. The symptoms, mode of infection, and geographical area, identified the agent as Francisella tularensis , which is also credited for outbreaks in Canaan around 1715 BC and 1075 BC. At first, the 14th century epidemic contaminated an area stretching from Cyprus to Iraq, and from Israel to Syria, sparing Egypt and Anatolia due to quarantine and political boundaries, respectively. Subsequently, wars spread the disease to central Anatolia, from where it was deliberately brought to Western Anatolia, in what constitutes the first known record of biological warfare. Finally, Aegean soldiers fighting in western Anatolia returned home to their islands, further spreading the epidemic.

Journal

Medical HypothesesElsevier

Published: Jan 1, 2007

References

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