It wasn’t me…

Incoming, this message on the 6000.co.za Facebook page:

Thought of you immediately!

Now, usually, I would be flattered to be thought of immediately on many occasions; it’s nice to be at the forefront of people’s minds. However, having said that, I’m not sure that the death of a man from bubonic plague and the subsequent sealing off of a city of 30,000 people in China is one of those occasions.
And I want to make it absolutely clear that I had nothing to do with this incident.

What is interesting is the publicity that this story has got. As I write, it is the most read article in the World News section of the Guardian website in the last 24 hours. And, given the pretty stiff competition (MH17, Israel and Gaza, Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough trying to buy another striker), that’s fairly impressive stuff. Yay microbiology.
The thing is, sporadic cases of bubonic plague are actually fairly regular occurrences all over the world:

Updated Plague Map 2010 with Country lines

With even (as you’ll have noted) a handful of cases in the USA each year:

CasesbyYear_barchart_1970-2012

And yet, no-one has ever – to my knowledge, anyway – thought of me immediately in any of these situations. Perhaps because they haven’t made the international headlines, which makes one wonder why this one has. True, it’s a rather draconian reaction by the Chinese authorities to one death, but then it’s not like they’re not renowned for that sort of behaviour. It does rather leave one wondering if the Guardian journalist in question saw BLACK DEATH! and didn’t do any background reading before breaking the story before anyone else got chance to. But then, I can’t believe that a journalist would put sensationalism before research.

Either way, I’m always happy to hear about microbiology stories in the news (it is, after all, the best Science in the World) and what better place for you to share it with a willing audience than via the 6000.co.za Facebook page, which you can like by visiting it (the blog facebook page, that is) here.

Thanks Debra

UPDATE: Sky News finally catches up with the story, add nothing.