What’s the connection, dear reader, between fruit, the word black, the sea and Covid-19?

Okay, I can see you’re flummoxed so I’ll tell you. The fruit in question is oranges, as in the the picture above. Yes, I know they’re green, that’s because they’re not yet ripe oranges. Why are they on my table and not on my orange tree. Because I have a problem with Mr. Rattus Rattus, who has a penchant for fruit. He’s not the only one! I like fruit as well, but Mr. Rattus Rattus is eating my fruit before it even ripens. I’ve heard of and seen Fruit Bats, but I have never heard of Fruit Rats, but they do exist. I’m two melons and countless oranges down, so, it was time for drastic action. No, I’m not going to poison them or shoot them. I hate the idea of killing any animal just because it’s hungry.

Mr. Rattus Rattus is more commonly know as the infamous black rat, and there’s your first connection. Yes, the very same rat that carried fleas infected with the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is what caused the deadliest pandemic known to human kind, the Black Death… there’s another black connection. There’s still another black connection to come.

The Black Death killed up to 100 million people and originated in Asia. The transmission of the bacteria was unlike current pandemic of Covid-19, and was passed from human to human via fleas, yes, human fleas. So you had to get pretty close and intimate for a flea to hop off one host, land on another and have a quick bite to eat before finding yet another host. So the transmission rate was pretty slow. Initially the Black Death traveled along the Silk Road. By 1347 the disease had reached the Black Sea (told you there was another black connection) and was then carried by fleas living on the black rats that travelled on merchant ships, that was your third connection, thus spreading the disease through the Mediterranean and eventually travelling to north Africa.

The Black Death was spread by human fleas which then caused pneumonic plague. Pneumonic plague was spread person-to-person via the aerosol effect, rather than flea bites. Travelling in the air when an infected person coughed or sneezed, means a much faster spread, similar to the current pandemic caused by Covid-19, and that was the last connection.

So, you can understand my current desire to remove the aforementioned rats asap. So, the orange tree has been chopped down and in fact all my fruit trees have suffered the same fate. I may not want to kill rats, but equally I don’t want to provide them with a free meal. There are plenty of other places they can go to and become SEP – Someone Else’s Problem.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2020

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The Brittle Sea
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Or you could read about my becoming an expat in Cyprus.

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