Joint Seminar by Dr CARNIEL (8 May 2014)

The Centre of Influenza Research, the Public Health Research Centre, and HKU-Pasteur Research Pole present the following seminar:

Title: “Plague: still an emerging disease?”

Speaker: Dr Elisabeth CARNIEL, Head, Yersinia Research Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Date: 8 May 2014 (Thursday)

Time: 2:00 - 3:00 pm

Venue: Seminar Room 1, G/F Laboratory Block, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, 21 Sassoon Road, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract: Plague, is a highly severe and often fatal disease that has left indelible marks in the collective unconscious. Since the Christian era, three pandemics were attributed to the plague bacillus, Yersinia pestis. There is no doubt that the third pandemic, which started from Hong-Kong in 1894, was caused by this bacillus. However, due to inconsistencies between the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of plague reported in historical records and in modern times, there was a debate regarding whether Y. pestis was the causative agent of the first (Justinian plague, 6th century) and second (Black Death, 14th-18th) pandemics. The development of paleomicrobiology has made possible to revisit plague pandemics and the microevolution of Y. pestis. A wrong belief is to consider plague as an extinct disease. Despite considerable reduction in mortality and morbidity, plague has never been eradicated. Numerous endemic foci exist in Asia, Africa and the Americas, and the disease is re-emerging in countries were no human cases were reported for decades. Here we will present our current knowledge about the origin of the plague bacillus, its place and date of emergence, and our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for its particular mode of transmission and exceptional pathogenicity.

About the speaker: Dr Elisabeth CARNIEL is head of the Yersinia Research Unit at the Institut Pasteur and Director of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre of Reference and Research on Yersinia. She was awarded the Medal of the National Order of Merit in 2008 and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 2013. She has over 170 reviews and original articles.

All are welcome.