Soundings

Ebola in Greece?

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7054.430 (Published 17 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:430
  1. Bernard Dixon

    One of our most deadly and dramatically publicised “new” infections may really be as old as the hills. The possibility arises with speculation that the great plague which hit Athens during the Spartan siege from 430 to 427 BC was not an epidemic of smallpox, typhus, typhoid fever, bubonic plague, cerebrospinal fever, or any of the other many diseases that historians have suggested, but was caused by Ebola virus.

    The idea comes from epidemiologist Patrick Olson, of the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, who has considered the matter not only with fellow scientists but also with a classicist colleague.

    “The most disastrous and fateful epidemic of recorded ancient …

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