black death, plague and plague doctors

The Black Death was mentioned on another thread, so I thought I’d write a little about it on The Pack-Porch Forum topic.

 

The Black Death raged for about ten years in the mid 14th century. It was probably caused by Yersinia pestis. This was not only carried by black rats and their fleas, but also directly spread from person to person via respiratory droplet infection particularly when people were huddled together.

 

I’ve always been fascinated by the plague doctor’s outfit. This was invented surprisingly late, in fact in the early 17th century. The cause of plague was thought to be bad air or ‘miasma’ and the plague doctor’s costume was designed specifically with miasma-theory in mind. Tall boots were worn, over which was worn a pair of leather breeches. A black smock was worn, high in the neck and belted at the waist. A hood was worn over the back of the head and neck. The fabric was very specific. It was linen, and it was waxed. A pair of long gauntlets was worn. The most striking item of apparel was the mask. It was made of stiff leather and covered the face. It had eye-holes which contained flat lenses of pink glass, and over the mouth a long beak with breathing-holes at the tip. The beak contained dry herbs, notably thyme and rosemary. The doctor carried a long cane with which he directed operations. He wore a physician’s hat with a wide brim.

 

In preventing infection this garb must have been quite effective, even though the reasons for designing it thus were completely mistaken. Plague is caused by bacterial infection, not by bad air. Yet this outfit would have been effective at preventing transmission of Yersinia to the doctor. Infected rat fleas do not jump very high (the bacterium grows in their foregut and they starve, biting people repeatedly: evolution at its nastiest). Thus the boots and leather trousers are effective. The proofed fabric would have prevented flea-bites. The gauntlets would have been effective in preventing the transmission of bacteria in the pus from weeping buboes. Plague can be spread by coughing (pneumonic plague) and the mask would have been very effective. The glass lenses would have prevented the bacteria entering the eye, and the dried herbs in the beak would have caught the bacteria, which cannot survive drying. Thymol is antiseptic (thymol).

 

So. A medical uniform effective for all the unexpected reasons. (Interesting, one plague doctor commented that he never got a flea-bite while wearing his costume — about 150 years before fleas were found to be implicated in plague.)

 

Here’s a link: http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/creepypasta/images/3/30/Plague_doctor_by_neamhni-d5lzah6.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20150215000918<

 

Wow, soo interesting! Thanks

Yes very interesting - I love history.

Jam

very interesting - thankyou

Started NACi Sept'14... 100mg Doxyi Dec'14...  Roxi 13Dec '14 Supplementsi...

On seeing my positive test result for yersinia, my doctor excitedly said 'ooh, I've never had a patient with plague before'.

Perhaps I need to consider buying myself some leather trousers!

Neuroi symptoms & many health problems from 1989. NACi+all supps(04/11) CAPi(05/11)

Hey Bo …

Although I have never seen you, your idea about adopting the leather trousers seems absolutely wonderful. I think that it goes without saying that the leather boots are an absolute must for any self-respecting sword flailing Briton. Whilst you are quite right in alluding to the fact that the leather mask with a long snout (filled with various bactericidal pungent herbs) is optional, it may be just what is needed to complete the outfit. You may stand in front of the long mirror in the fitting room and the assistant may well utter the words “Yes! Bo, that really is you.” I say, if you can carry it off, you go for it girl.

In terms on your doctor’s comment “'ooh, I've never had a patient with plague before”. That is somewhat startling. Having read a little, I am slightly the wiser now. Here’s a link to an article:

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/226871-overview<

So, do the meds we’re taking do the bizz?

G.

“Don't believe everything you read on the internet.”

―    Abraham Lincoln<

I think I might just stick with the leather trousers and boots, if that's OK Embarassed

Neuroi symptoms & many health problems from 1989. NACi+all supps(04/11) CAPi(05/11)

Yersinia pestis isn't the only yersinia species; there are plenty of others.

Maybe Boadicea's doctor was just joking, or at least I hope  he was....................Sarah

Completed Stratton/Wheldon regime for aggressive secondary progressive MSi in June 2007, after four years, three of which intermittent.   Still improving bit by bit and no relapses since finishing treatment.

Hey Sarah …

Where you live, there may be sharp disagreement over what I am about to say but I’ll say it nonetheless.

I have never confused doctors with being stand-up comedians. I have never walked into my doctor’s surgery and wondered what today’s joke will be. I have walked away from a doctor’s surgery not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

I’d lay good money that Bo’s doctor wasn’t attempting to crack a funny.

On a slightly different note here, I am a tad disappointed that Bo seems to have dismissed the idea of leather mask with long breathing snout as “Not her”. To her I would say that there are two kinds of people: the leaders and the followers. The leaders are in the vanguard (which is at the front) and the followers are in the guard’s van (which is at the back). Bo, I saw you as a leader; a trend-setter.

 Wink

G.

“Don't believe everything you read on the internet.”

―    Abraham Lincoln<

Well, where I live I have never noticed any doctor apart sometimes from David being a stand up comedian, but being somewhat ironic, I think I as just meaning that Bo's doctor was a tad dim.

Apart from this, I saw this about yersinia pestis in the US on the BBC news today:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34398099<

Sarah

Completed Stratton/Wheldon regime for aggressive secondary progressive MSi in June 2007, after four years, three of which intermittent.   Still improving bit by bit and no relapses since finishing treatment.

The Neurologist Came

 

On the scene: like something

Of the Borg. “Resistance is futile.”

That’s just about what he said.

 

“Resistance is futile.” How that

Neurologist belonged to the Borg.

 

 

D W - [Myalgia and hypertension">i (typically 155/95.) Began (2003) taking doxycycline and macrolide and later adding metronidazolei. No medication now. Morning BP typically 110/75]

Fortunately, Captain Picard-Wheldon rejected the premise. Cool

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems. Mohandas Gandhi

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