Health

Unmasking the Plague Doctor: A Symbol of Fear and Misunderstanding

  The plague was once the most terrifying disease in the world, killing hundreds of millions of people in global epidemics and tormenting victims with painful and swollen lymph nodes, blackened skin, and other horrific symptoms.
  In 17th-century Europe, doctors who cared for plague victims wore garb that is still ominous today: They covered themselves from head to toe and donned a long, beak-like mask. Behind this plague mask is actually a misunderstanding of the nature of this dangerous disease.
  During outbreaks of the bubonic plague, a recurring epidemic in Europe for centuries, towns besieged by the disease would hire plague doctors, who would administer what was considered medical treatment to rich and poor alike. Behavior. These doctors would create concoctions of medicines and plague antidotes that were believed to have protective powers at the time, witness wills, and perform autopsies—some while wearing beak masks.
  The invention of the costume is generally attributed to Charles de Lorme, a doctor who treated many European nobles in the 17th century. Among his patients were King Louis XIII of France and Gaston d’Orléans, son of Marie de’ Medici. Delorme described an attire that included a coat coated with scented wax, breeches attached to boots, a shirt tucked into the trousers, and a hat and gloves made of goatskin. “Plague doctors” would also carry wooden staffs with them, allowing them to avoid touching patients directly or to fend off attacks from desperate patients.
  Their head equipment is very unusual: the “plague doctor” will wear goggles and a mask. The nose part of the mask is shaped like a beak, stuffed with spices, and has only two small holes on both sides near the nostrils. Breathe and bring up the breath of herbs contained in your beak.
  Although “plague doctors” all over Europe wore this look, in Italy, this look was so classic that it made the “plague doctor” a key player in Italian improvisational comedies and carnivals – and is still a very popular look to this day. .
  But this whole scary costume isn’t just a killer fashion statement: it’s meant to protect doctors from the stench. In an era before the germ theory of disease, doctors believed that plague was spread through poisonous air that caused an imbalance in the body’s humors. They believed that sweet and spicy aromas could be used to fumigate places affected by plague and protect those who smelled them; floral incense, incense, and other fragrances were common in that era.
  The “plague doctors” stuffed their masks with a “panacea” consisting of more than 55 herbs, as well as other ingredients such as adder meat powder, cinnamon and honey. Delorme believes that the mask’s beak shape allowed the air enough time to absorb these protective herbs before reaching the plague doctor’s nostrils and lungs.
  In fact, plague is caused by Yersinia pestis, a bacterium that can be transmitted from animals to humans, through flea bites, contact with contaminated fluids or tissues, or by inhaling the infectious spray of a person infected with bubonic plague Droplet infection.
  Before humans figured out the real cause of the outbreak, plague pandemics had swept across the world three times – during the Justinian Plague around 561 AD, the number of deaths per day was as high as 10,000; the Black Death was eradicated between 1334 and 1372 It killed one-third of the population of Europe, and continued to cause intermittent outbreaks, which occurred as late as 1879; the third plague pandemic ravaged most of Asia from 1894 to 1959.
  Yet until the germ theory of disease and the rise of modern antibiotics, the “plague doctor” garb offered no real protection against the disease. Their costumes and protective methods had little effect in prolonging life, alleviating suffering, or achieving curative effects.

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