Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Middle Ages Diseases

The Middle Ages Diseases

Europe lost around a third—in some places as much as half—of their population to disease, especially in the crowded conditions of the towns. As a consequence, the mass population loss greatly accelerated social and economic change during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Leprosy (Hansen's disease) is a chronic infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae that results in damage primarily to the peripheral nerves (the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord), skin, testes, eyes, and mucous membrane of the nose.Because of the visible disfigurement in untreated people, people with leprosy have long been feared and shunned by others. Although leprosy is not highly contagious, does not cause death, and can be effectively treated with antibiotics, the disease still causes widespread anxiety. As a result, people with leprosy often suffer psychologic and social problems. More than 1 million people worldwide have leprosy.

Small Pox - An acute infectious viral disease characterized by severe systemic involvement and a single crop of skin lesions that proceeds through macular, popular, vesicular, and pustular stages. Smallpox is caused by variola virus, a brick-shaped, deoxyribonucleic acid-containing member of the Poxviridae family. Strains of variola virus are indistinguishable antigenically, but have differed in the clinical severity of the disease caused. Following a 13-year worldwide campaign coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Assembly in May 1980. Smallpox is the first human disease to be eradicated.

Dysentery - is a disease involving the inflammation of the lining of the large intestines. The inflammation causes stomach pains and diarrhoea. Some cases involve vomiting and fever. The bacteria enters the body through the mouth in food or water, and also by human feaces and contact with infected people. The diarrhoea causes people suffering from dysentery to lose important salts and fluids from the body. This can be fatal if the body dehydrates. This disease struck the men in the trenches as there was no proper sanitation. Latrines in the trenches were pits four to five feet deep. When they were within one foot they were supposed to be filled in and the soldiers had the job of digging a new one. Sometimes there was not time for this and men used a nearby shell-hole.