The Malays formerly suffered severely from smallpox epidemics, but in the portion of the peninsula under British rule vaccination has been introduced, and the ravages of the disease no longer assume serious dimensions.
Epidemics of cholera, which occurred during the years of scarcity and famine, also swept away large numbers.
The epidemic nature of wheat-rust was known to Aristotle about 350 B.C., and the Greeks and Romans knew these epidemics well, their philosophers having shrewd speculations as to causes, while the people held characteristic superstitions regarding them, which found vent in the dedication of special festivals and deities to the pests.
It is among the Invertebrata that epidemics of destruction are referred to, though we should bear in mind that it is only the difference in numerical proportion that prevents our speaking of an epidemic of elephants or of rabbits, though we use the term when speaking of blight insects; there is little consistency in the matter, as it is usual to speak of an invasion or scourge of locusts, caterpillars, &c. Insect injuries are very varied in degree and in kind.
Again, the curious distortions on the stems of nettles attacked by the Aecidium form of the heteroecious Puccina (]aricis (see FUNGf for Heteroecism), or on maize stems and leaves attacked by Ustilago Maydis, or on the inflorescence of crucifers infested with Cystopus, &c., are not individually very destructive; it is the cumulative effects of numerous attacks or of extensive epidemics which eventually tell.
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