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HLTB21H3 Chapter Notes -Philip V Of Spain, Lazaretto, Leper Colony


Department
Health Studies
Course Code
HLTB21H3
Professor
C.Barkat

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Plagues and People: Leprosy
LEPROSY- Chapter 14
History:
o Leprosy is a disease that is mentioned many times throughout the bible
o Probably arose in the Far East in 1400BC
o Hindu and Chinese writing show from 600BC that they may have been affected by leprosy
o It has been claimed that leprosy was brought from India to Greece in the 4th century BC. This occurred
when Alexander the great’s army came from India to Greece in 320 BC
o It is also thought that it spread from Far East to the west along the trade routes
o Hippocrates did not describe leprosy because he did not see it
o Emperor Constantine suffered from leprosy and pagan priests believed that bathing in the blood of
sacrificed children would cure him, but it didn’t
o In Rome it was brought with the return of Pompeii’s troops from Asia Minor in 62BC
o Saraath: Hebrew word used to describe many skin conditions meaning defiled, accursed or scaly
o Later translated into Greek saraath became lepros, then lepra by St. Jerome then finally in English as
leprosy
o Leprosy was considered a disease of the soul
o Earlier thought to be a hereditary illness because people in the same family got it, or caused by a curse
or by punishment from God they thought lepers were sinners
o Lepers were stigmatized, considered crafty, irascible suspicious and having a burning desire for lustful
sex. So disease was sometimes known as satyriasis: an insatiable sexual appetite
o They were not considered nice people
o In 16th century there was confusion between leprosy and syphilis
o Lepers stigmatized: E.g. special clothing, arrival notification, separate hospitals, and often had to live in
colonies called
leprosariums
lazaretto
lazarets after Lazarus of Bethany who suffered from leprosy
leper colony
lazar house
o Lepers had to ring a bell to notify people of their arrival into a store or even just coming down the street
o They were cast out of the society because of the open sore they had on their bodies. This contributed to
the notion that this disease is contagious: this brought stigma fear and worry.
o First ‘leper house’ in England 936 AD
o By the Mid-12th century - loss of civic status, removal from public office lepers were considered dead,
heirs could inherit their fortune, but their spouses could not get married until they actually died
o 13th century - 19,000 ‘leprosaria’ in use -peak of epidemic
o Mass of Separation- special ceremony when a leper was put into a leper house, rights read to them by a
clergy man. These strict rules showed the degree of stigma for lepers
o Authoritarians would tie them to a pole and burn them(Henry II and Phillip V) but the nice ones would
do a live burial instead (Edward I)
o Decline around 1350 AD
o Spread to North America in 16th and 17th century
o By 16th century many leprosarium’s closed
o By 18th century virtually all of them disappeared
o Leprosy retreated in 1300’s with the rising incidence of pulmonary TB, which provoked greater
resistance to leprosy
o Chinese singled out as a source of leprosy, 97% of lepers in Molokai Island were Hawaiian
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