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      Megadrought and Megadeath in 16th Century Mexico

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          The native population collapse in 16th century Mexico was a demographic catastrophe with one of the highest death rates in history. Recently developed tree-ring evidence has allowed the levels of precipitation to be reconstructed for north central Mexico, adding to the growing body of epidemiologic evidence and indicating that the 1545 and 1576 epidemics of cocoliztli (Nahuatl for "pest”) were indigenous hemorrhagic fevers transmitted by rodent hosts and aggravated by extreme drought conditions.

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          Hantaviruses: a global disease problem.

          Hantaviruses are carried by numerous rodent species throughout the world. In 1993, a previously unknown group of hantaviruses emerged in the United States as the cause of an acute respiratory disease now termed hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Before than, hantaviruses were known as the etiologic agents of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, a disease that occurs almost entirely in the Eastern Hemisphere. Since the discovery of the HPS-causing hantaviruses, intense investigation of the ecology and epidemiology of hantaviruses has led to the discovery of many other novel hantaviruses. Their ubiquity and potential for causing severe human illness make these viruses an important public health concern; we reviewed the distribution, ecology, disease potential, and genetic spectrum.
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            Tree-ring data document 16th century megadrought over North America

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              Outbreak of hantavirus infection in the Four Corners region of the United States in the wake of the 1997-1998 El Nino-southern oscillation.

              Hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS), a rodent-borne zoonosis, has been endemic in the Americas for at least several decades. It is hypothesized that the 1991-1992 El Niño-southern oscillation (ENSO) caused increased precipitation that allowed an increase in rodent population densities, thereby increasing the possibility of transmission to humans. The result was a 1993-1994 outbreak of the disease in the Four Corners states of the southwestern United States. A second strong ENSO occurred in 1997-1998, after a period of considerable public education about the risks of hantavirus infection that began during the 1993-1994 outbreak. The caseload of HCPS increased 5-fold above baseline in the Four Corners states in 1998-1999. Regions that had received increased rainfall in 1998 were especially affected. A large majority of the 1998-1999 case patients reported indoor exposure to deer mice. Hantavirus outbreaks can occur in response to abiotic events, even in the face of extensive public education and awareness.

                Author and article information

                Emerg Infect Dis
                Emerging Infectious Diseases
                Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
                April 2002
                : 8
                : 4
                : 360-362
                [* ]Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico
                []University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
                Author notes
                Address for correspondence: David Stahle, Tree-Ring Laboratory, Department of Geosciences, Ozark Hall 113, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701 USA; fax: 501-575-3846; e-mail address: dstahle@ 123456mail.uark.edu
                Historical Review

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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