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Chapter 3

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Plagues and Peoples TextbookChapter 3 Six Plagues of Antiquity October 03 2010 Page Notes43Plagues came to be recorded when we became farmersAgriculture not only provided a surplus of food for the population but also a condition that is risky to life and will result in a decline of human healthThe diseases of antiquity 5000 BC to AD 700 were characterized by parasites with longlived transmission stages eg eggs as well as those involving persontoperson contact 44 The Pharaohs Plague Blood Fluke or snail fever or endemic hematuria or schistosomiasis or bilharziaAssyrian Babylonian literature and Egyptian papyrus from Kahun in about 1900 BC tells about a disease in which blood appears in the urine hematuriaClose to the Louvre Museum in Paris there is a stone from ancient Egypt that reads Anyone who moves this boundary stone will be covered with bloody urine There is hieroglyphic sign showing a penis dripping could possibly be blood but was believed to be a sign of puberty for a male not a sign of a diseaseIn the Ebers papyrus named after Gerald Ebers approx 1500 BC suggested that this condition is widespreadThere are figures of fishermen and bargemen with enlarged abdomens representing the pathology of chronic snail fever or blood fluke disease in the tomb of PtahHetep I and Mhou of Vlth DynastyMarc Arman Ruffer 18591917 found many calcified eggs of blood fluke in the kidneys of many mummiesFossil snails have been found in the well water of Jericho fossil snails are capable of transmitting blood fluke disease 46People who built stone monuments of the pharaohs got snail feverThe doctors could not control snail fever because civilization was based on agriculture which requires irrigation and natural flooding by the riverThese conditions were favourable for snail fever transmission caused by blood fluke Blood fluke is not a fatal disease but a corrosive one 47McNeil suggested that the rule of the Pharaohs may have been because of the power of snail fever and blood fluke and malariaThe cause of snail fever was unknown to the ancient Egyptians Search for the destroyerThis disease involves feces or urine water snails and a flatwormNapoleons army during the invasion of Egypt 17991801 were the first Europeans to get this diseaseBaron Jean Larey a military surgeon believed that it was the excessive heat in the long marches that was the causeIn 1851 the connection between hematuria and parasite was recognized by Theodor Bilharz a German physician working in Egypt who found worms inside a mans blood vessel during an autopsyHe named the worm Distomum meaning two mouthsThe name was changed to Schistosoma in 1858 from the Greek words schisto split and soma bodyIn 1851 Bilharz reported seeing microscopic eggs with a pointed spine in the female wormin the following year he observed these eggs in the bladder and within the egg he observed a small motile embryo He also discovered that the eggs hatched to release a small ciliated larva that would warm around for approximately an hour and then disintegrate In 1863 John Harley a London physician confirmed this work when he examined a patient who had hematuria48Although it was not for certain but it was believed that the disease was transmitted by eating infected snails or drinking water that had the ciliated larvae called miracidiaThe snails Bulinus and biomphalaria were identified as the vectors The snail vector is crucial to transmission which is why schistosomiasis is known as snail feverThe infection was transmitted by bathing in infested waterSnail fever the diseaseSchistosomes are different than other fluke because they inhabit the blood vesselsThe adult worms that develop in the blood vessels close to the bladder and small intestine are 10 mm in lengthThe passage of eggs through the bladder wall and small intestines that causes bleeding and gives the sign of hematuriaThe eggs spread throughout the body via bloodstream and accumulate in various organsThe eggs also scatter up and block the normal blood flow which can lead to tissue death
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