The Plague

Image posted in an article by Leopoldo Costa written June 5, 2011.

In this short newspaper article on the third page of the first day of my issue, the topic was about a plague outbreak that had numerous cases throughout Egypt. Victims of the plague had been reported dead in a number of villages.

The article states some, but not all, of the cases were said to be pneumonic, which means it affected the lungs. This creates a curiosity for me. If only the majority of the deaths were caused by pneumonia, I wonder if all of the people who died, were infected by the same disease. I am also curious if the disease affected different people in different ways. The article explicitly states that they deemed this plague to be contracted through direct contact. I am curious as to the origins of this plague and the characteristics and symptoms of it as well. I searched for outside information regarding this plague and this website explains that this plague had affected other countries as well such as India, South America, and Europe.

Additionally, the article talks about improvements made in a village where numerous cases of the plague occurred as well as providing treatment to one infected patient that led to their cure. This proves that the medical professionals of Egypt were able to identify the disease and develop a treatment that helped cure at least one patient. This website explains how diseases were treated in ancient Egypt. People were still exposed to similar diseases that are found today, however, their treatment methods were much different. They used medicines and “magic” which referred to asking the gods for treatment. They also made their own medical remedies, many of which contained beer which was believed to have powerful curing effects. I am interested to know how they treated and cured the single patient.

Additionally, medical practices in ancient Egypt have a lasting effect on present methods. Through further research, this website went into detail on how treatments in ancient Egypt influenced treatments used today. For example, ancient Egyptian professionals used various herbs to create medicines to cure diseases and sicknesses. Many of these same remedies are still used today. Ancient medical practices were more advanced than I presumed. There is evidence that Egyptian doctors performed eye surgery, dentistry, used prosthetics, healed broken bones, and more. Many of their treatment and healing methods were published in books that are still being preserved today. It is interesting that medical practices used in ancient times are still being used in one way or another in modern times.

A number of my classmates and students in the past also inquired questions regarding the plague. One student was also curious to know more about the plague, its origins, symptoms, and treatment. I searched through various blog posts that were written on the plague and noticed a trend. Multiple students were wondering why there was not much information on the plague. This student wrote about the small number of reports that were made about the plague. In my issue there was only one small article hidden on the third page. This makes me question how serious the disease was at the time and if it was something that either was not a major threat or if it was being hidden from the public. This is something I hope to learn more about as I continue working with my week.

As I continue to go through my week in this newspaper, I hope to find more information about this plague. I wonder if the number of deaths will decreases and if a fully effective cure is developed to prevent further infections.

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Will Hanley
Associate Professor of History

I study the legal history of the Middle East and teach at Florida State University.

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