SciComm Video Games | Episode 3 | A Plague Tale Innocence

SciComm Video Games | Episode 3 | A Plague Tale Innocence

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When reading or engaging in discussions about animal welfare, human-wildlife conflict, or zoonotic disease, things can become emotionally-charged very quickly.
For this article, I recommend using an indica to help keep you focused yet calm and emotionally-regulated. Grinding less than 50mg of indica (much less than 1/4 of a 1g bud) and then smoking just a small pinch of that once or twice over a 3-5hr period is perfect for maintaining a calm state of mind when studying socially-, emotionally-, and even politically-challenging concepts.
Black Flower Science Co. does not claim to be a medical professional and does not offer recommendations as a substitute for medical advice. All advice and recommendations are based on personal experience of the benefits of medical marijuana. If you are experiencing severe or declining mental health symptoms, please seek the advice of a medical professional.

Today, in light of the current pandemic, we’re gonna have a little chat about zoonotic disease.

Of course, as I’m sure you’re aware, A Plague Tale is based loosely on the horrific events that followed the spread of the Black Plague – an epidemic that primarily affected Europe and Asia during the mid-1300s.

The Plague, also known as the “Great Pestilence” at that time, was spread by sailors traveling between countries on trading ships. The disease was characterized by large growths near the groin and the armpits. These growths would sometimes express blood and pus and were accompanied by:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Body aches

Its main target was the lymphatic system which is why the lymph nodes would swell upon contraction of the deadly disease. Without treatment, the Plague would begin to attack the cardiac and respiratory systems.

We now know that the virus responsible for the Black Plague was Yersina pestis, and of course, that the it was zoonotic. It was carried by rodents of many kinds, including prairie dogs, chipmunks, voles, and more.

Once Y. pestis was in the body of the rodent, it would be picked up by the fleas ailing the animal, and passed to humans through contact with those same fleas. It could also be contracted if the human had direct contact with the bodily tissues and/or fluids of infected animals.

There are many different types of zoonotic diseases in existence today. Some of the most well-known examples include:

Malaria: Caused by the Plasmodium species of protozoa – a microscopic organism – that hide away in the salivary glands of mosquitoes. Depending on the species of mosquito, the insect would take a blood meal from an animal (in this case, another mammal) and ingest Plasmodium through the bloodstream.

Once the protozoan lives in the mosquito for long enough, it completes its life cycle and migrates to the mosquito’s salivary glands, where it waits to infect the next human bitten by the host mosquito. Once the mosquito bites, that human is then infected with Plasmodium, which matures and reproduces in that human’s body.

Toxoplasmosis: Believe it or not, this is one of the most common diseases in the United States – the only thing is, most people don’t know they have it since they are asymptomatic. This disease is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, another protozoan parasite that frequents the bodies of endothermic (otherwise known as “warm-blooded”) animals.

Who’s the culprit carrying this disease around? Cats! That’s right, your fuzzy little friend is hiding a secret. Felines are the only known definitive hosts for T. gondii, meaning they are the animal host in which the protozoan can successfully complete its reproductive cycle.

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After consuming infected birds, rodents, and other small creatures, the cat contracts the disease and passes it in its waste. Humans can then become infected by either consuming food or water that has been contaminated with their cat’s waste or by direct exposure or accidental consumption of fecal matter (i.e., changing the litter box). Of course, there are other routes of infection, but those are the two cat owners are most vulnerable to.

Zoonotic diseases are a part of life that humans cannot escape. Now we’re seeing it in the form of the novel coronavirus strain, COVID-19 (“CO” = coronavirus, “VI” = virus, “D” = disease, “19” = 2019).

There are many different types of coronavirus, some of which are a standard part of human life, so referring to this new strain as “coronavirus” is quite inaccurate. Some examples of known coronaviruses are:

  • 229E: An alpha coronavirus, responsible for the common cold.
  • NL63: An alpha coronavirus, associated with respiratory tract infections.
  • OC43: A beta coronavirus, responsible for the common cold.
  • HKU1: A beta coronavirus, associated with severe respiratory tract disease.

We must remember that humans do not exist in a vacuum. We are animals in this world just like any other, and can therefore be affected by these illnesses in the same way that other species can. Although this does not take away from the severity of the current pandemic, it also offers some perspective.

The spread of this disease is not the fault of a particular nation or ethnicity, so it’s high time we stopped making those assertions. Sure, the Chinese, United States, and many European governments could have done a LOT more to protect their citizens.

But we are here now. Our greatest defense is knowledge, so get a step ahead of the hysterical media by educating yourself based on real science and consulting health and scientific authorities. Stay safe (and keep yourself occupied indoors with this amazing game, A Plague Tale: Innocence!

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