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Chapter 3

Study notes on chapter 3 of "The Power of Plagues"

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Health Studies
Caroline Barakat

CHAPTER 3 Six Plagues of Antiquity As humans changed their lifestyles, their relationship with infectious diseases came to be altered. Historically, plagues came to be recorded only in our recent past, in a time when we became farmers. By 8000 BC the human population was settled in villagesfirst, in Mesopotamia, then in Egypt, India, and china. *The diseases of antiquity (5000 BC to AD 700) were characterized by parasites with long-lived transmission stages as well as those involving person-to-person contact. Thus, most diseases became established only when a persistent small number of infectious individuals could be maintained, i.e., when the disease became endemic; this required populations greater than a few hundred thousand. _______________________________________________________________________ __________________________ THE PHARAOHS PLAGUE A look back Assyria and Babylonian literature, as well as the Egyptian papyrus from Kahun written in about 1900 BC, describes a disease that causes blood to appear in urine (hematuria). Many remedies for this described in the Ebers papyrus, suggesting that this condition was widespread. Furthermore, in a relief of the tomb of Ptah-Hetep I and Mehou of the VIth Dynasty at Sakarrah, there are figures of fishermen ad bargemen with enlarged abdomens, surely representing the pathology of chronic snail fever or blood fluke disease. Calcified eggs of the blood fluke have been found in the kidneys of several mummies. Snails capable of transmitting blood fluke have been found in the well water of Jericho. It has been hypothesized that the water was infested with infected snails, resulting in a high level of disease. Joshuas army www.notesolution.com easily defeated the people of Jericho as a consequence. Joshua, unaware of the cause of the disease, destroyed Jericho and proclaimed a curse on any one who would rebuild it. In some ways, nature favored Egypt. However, Egypts people were racked with a debilitating disease, snail fever. Although medical science began in Egypt, the doctors and surgeons could not keep this disease at bay. The reason for this was that the early civilizations of Egypt and those of the Fertile Crescent (Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon) were based on agriculture, which required irrigation andor natural flooding rivers. Irrigation, farming especially in the tropics, created conditions favorable for the transmission of snail fever caused by the blood fluke. Blood fluke diseasethe plague of the pharaohsis not a fatal disease as malaria and yellow fever are; however, it is a corrosive disease. Snail and the blood fluke and malariathe classic plagues of Egyptdebilitated the populace. Egypt became subject to internal political dissension and attack by their iron-armed neighbors (the Assyrians), and their civilization, based on agriculture and cooper weapons, began to collapse. The Persians overran Egypt in 525 BC. The cause of the disease was unknown to the ancient Egyptians because the transmission staged of the parasite (eggs, miracidia, and cercariae) are microscopic; in addition, the adult worms themselves are tiny and love within the small blood vessels, so they were unnoticed for thousand years. Search for the destroyer *Blood fluke disease, also known as snail fever or endemic hematuria, involves feces or urine, water, snails, and flatworm. The first Europeans to experience the disease on any scale appear to have been the soldiers of Napoleons army during the invasion of Egypt. Symptoms: bloody urine A German physician working in Egypt made a startling discovery while carrying out an autopsy on a young man: worms were found in the blood vessels. Today blood fluke disease is called schistosomiasis or bilharzia. www.notesolution.com
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