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Left: Protective clothing of the pest doctors. 52 | Wellcome Library During an epidemic, fifteen to forty per cent of the population died, not only children and poor and old people, but people of all ages and social classes. The plague was an unpredictable terror, because it could last from several months to several years and then disappear for ten to twenty years and leave the town in peace, only to strike again with devastating ferocity. People did not understand the coming and going of the plague, but the prevailing opinion was that it was caused by pollution and rotting air, and that it should be feared as a highly contagious disease. From the fifteenth century onwards, this view caused the Italian city states to take a number of measures to prevent the spread of the plague. The main measures were to quarantine the sick in lazaretto’s, have victims buried outside the town walls by special personnel, refuse entry to the city to travellers who did not have a certificate of health, and to cleanse everything and everybody that had been in contact with a plague sufferer, including burning the contents of a contaminated house. These ‘Italian measures’ were adopted by many town councils in times of plague.


Geneeskundeboek-Opmaak Binnenwerk-ENG.indd
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