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Hygiene In The Middle Ages Essay

1417 words - 6 pages

Hygiene and Infectious Disease During the Middle Ages
Cayman Scott
Jacksonville University

| In the period known as the Renaissance, the transition of the Middle Ages to the modern world was taking place, showing diversity |
|in cultural and religious practices and philosophical and artistic impressions, including an emphasis in education. What coincides |
|during this era is the eventual change in belief system regarding hygiene and the thought process of infection causes, treatments and |
|preventive measures. |
|The relation of religion to disease process ...view middle of the document...

The biggest culprit, and perhaps the easiest remedy is in hygienic practice, or lack thereof, in regards to preventive care |
|and in the treatment of disease (Faria, 2012). The general public of this era was quite superstitious and some people believed that bad|
|odors were what caused the onset of illness, although the means to eradicate the causes of these offensive agents were widely |
|overlooked. As a result, when the population grew, especially in more concentrated communities, so did the spread of these diseases |
|from animal or human hosts to one another. |
|The occurrence of the bubonic plague killed millions of people and nearly wiped out some cities entirely (Sayre, 2012). A great cause |
|for many illnesses spreading throughout Europe during the middle ages was due to the lack of adequate sanitation for growing cities, |
|basic medical knowledge and disease prevention. There was no running water, sewers were open to the streets and it was common to find |
|garbage strewn about. This proved to be a feeding source and breeding environment for rats carrying fleas, spreading from animal host |
|to human as they scurried from place to place. In London, there would be occasional gatherings and dumping of city garbage directly |
|into the Thames River, corrupting the water supply and spreading contaminated debris down to populated areas and harbors where ships |
|docked for trade activities. Because disease was believed to be a punishment directed from heaven, public-health and basic sanitation |
|practices were not seen as important (Faria, 2012). Although population control of these infected rats was never conducted, the |
|population eventually plummeted causing the vectors, the fleas, to seek out human hosts. The people that were infected were not kept in|
|quarantine from the general populous and it was common to find the dying within their homes, often with actively draining buboes, with |
|family present (Newman, 2012). |
|The outbreak and rate of transfer during the Black Death gave cause for people to look at the relationship between hygiene and health. |
|Basic dental practices consisting of cloths for cleaning along with herbal mixtures as antiseptics and deodorizers, and barrels for |
|infrequent bathing were rare, although they did exist (Knight, 2008). It was believed by some that the act of bathing actually allowed |
|for disease to spread through the open pores of the skin (Dowling, 2014). Larger buildings such as churches and castles had primitive |
|toilets, utilizing a chute system for the removal of waste. Often times this material would be led to the outdoors or surrounding moat |
|or water feature, with running water if it all possible. The problem lies with the...

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