“The Plague” is still a deadly force.

Image: The Black Plague killed half of Europe’s population. In Kutna Hora in Czech Republic, the skulls of plague victims were fashioned into a chapel. (Martin Moos/ Getty)
The Past
Bodies were piled into mass graves—sometimes five bodies high. Towns were destroyed, families wiped out. As the Black Plague marched through Europe in the 14th century, it decimated half of the continent’s population.
Few were spared from loss.
Six hundred years later, the pestilence reared its head again. This time it killed around 10 million people in the late 19th century.
It was in this zenith that the murderer was uncovered.
In 1894, Swiss doctor Alexandre Yersin identified that the bacteria, Yersinia pestis, were the destructive beasts.
While stories of this scourge have largely been relegated to history books, we have never gotten rid of this disease.
Read on via How the plague became a deadly force – Health Report – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

“Louis Pasteur’s Theory of Disease”.

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Louis Pasteur was born in Dole France, married to Marie Laurent and had five children.
Three of his children died of typhoid fever, maybe leading to Pasteur’s drive to save people from disease.
He graduated in 1842 from Besancon College Royal de la Franche with honors in physics, mathematics, Latin, and drawing. Louis Pasteur later attended Ecole Normale to study physics and chemistry, specializing in crystals.
In his early research Pasteur worked with the wine growers of France, helping with the fermentation process to develop a way to pasteurize and kill germs.
He was granted U.S. patent 135,245 for “Improvement in Brewing Beer and Ale Pasteurization.”
Pasteur then worked within the textile industry finding a cure for a disease affecting silk worms.
He also found cures for chicken cholera, anthrax and rabies.
The Pasteur Institute
The Pasteur Institute was opened in 1888. During Louis Pasteur’s lifetime it was not easy for him to convince others of his ideas, controversial in their time but considered absolutely correct today.
Pasteur fought to convince surgeons that germs existed and carried diseases, and dirty instruments and hands spread germs and therefore disease. Pasteur’s pasteurization process killed germs and prevented the spread of disease.
The Germ Theory of Disease
Louis Pasteur’s main contributions to microbiology and medicine were; instituting changes in hospital/medical practices to minimize the spread of disease by microbes or germs, discovering that weak forms of disease could be used as an immunization against stronger forms and that rabies was transmitted by viruses too small to be seen under the microscopes of the time, introducing the medical world to the concept of viruses.
via Louis Pasteur – Germ Theory of Disease.

“The Ultimate Cure for Rheumatism.”

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A rheumatism sufferer sits inside the carcass of a whale. Photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia
Climbing inside the carcass of a whale was once thought to bring relief to rheumatism sufferers, an Australian National Maritime Museum exhibit shows.
Staying inside the whale for about 30 hours was believed to bring relief from aches and pains for up to 12 months, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
It was thought to have started in the whaling town of Eden on Australia’s southern coast.
The practice is documented as part of the museum’s special whales season.
Now read on to find out about some of the drawbacks of this cure. via BBC News – Rheumatism sufferers sought relief inside a whale.

The Deadly Flu Virus of 1918.

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The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed well over 50 million people around the world.
There are photos of mass graves dug in Philadelphia to handle the bodies. There are hospital wards with so many beds that they look more like warehouses.
And there are the outdoor hospitals set up when the indoors ones were full, rows of white tents separating patients from one another.
The image above is less obviously horrifying. It shows people playing baseball while wearing masks.
The crowd wear masks as well. And that reflects the most terrifying and devastating aspect of the 1918 pandemic in a way the other pictures don’t:
It killed anyone. Young, healthy adults—of the sort that play baseball—normally rarely care about the flu, but the 1918 outbreak was different. It killed anyone, and we still don’t really know why.
The photo also represents a sad futility when you learn that the masks didn’t protect people.
While cotton gauze may stop bacteria, viruses are much smaller. Yet pictures record large groups wearing them, from police in Seattle, to paperboys in Canada, to soldiers in France, right down to the general public.
Not one of them was protected in any way from one of the deadliest events in human history.
Read on via 10 Poignant Photographs From Humanity’s Lowest Moments – Listverse.

“Watching Nuclear Explosions is a Health Hazard.”

From 1945 till 2008, over 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted worldwide.
The United States of America alone accounts for 1,054 of these tests, according to an official count.
Many of these atmospheric tests, the ones in which the nuclear device is detonated above the ground, were watched by thousands of spectators and volunteers.
Radiations and fall-out from these tests were later found to have claimed the lives of more than 11,000 Americans, according to a report by New Scientist.
The guys in the pictures had no idea of what they were getting into. Soldiers (above) being exposed to a nuclear explosion at the Nevada Test Site in 1951.
Believe it or not, these five volunteers were standing at ground zero when a 2KT nuclear air-to-air missile was exploded 15,000 feet above their heads, to demonstrate that the weapon was safe for use over populated areas.
Whether this affected the health of the officers is unknown.
Source: How to Watch a Nuclear Explosion | Amusing Planet

The New York Riot that shaped Medicine.

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For most Americans, being a physician is a respectable profession, held in high esteem and relatively untarnished by the constant health care debates.
But that wasn’t always the case, and one of the first major riots in the post-revolution United States was caused by popular anger against doctors.
The so-called “Doctors’ Riot,” which began on April 16, 1788, and killed as many as 20 people, influenced both the perception of American medicine and the way it was carried out for decades to come, even though it has been mostly forgotten today.
In the closing years of the 18th century, New York was home to only one medical school: Columbia College.
At the time, those looking to practice medicine didn’t have to graduate from a professional school, and this led to some students attending private, not-for-credit classes at New York Hospital, taught by Richard Bayley, a Connecticut-born doctor who had studied in London with the famous Scottish surgeon John Hunter.
Anatomical dissections were a central component of these classes, and medical training in general, but they were offensive, even seen as sacrilegious, to early New Yorkers.
In the winter of 1788, the city was abuzz with newspaper stories about medical students robbing graves to get bodies for dissection, mostly from the potter’s field and the cemetery reserved for the city’s blacks, known as the Negroes Burial Ground.
While some of those reports may have been based on rumor, they pointed to an underlying truth: with no regulated source of bodies for dissection, the medical students had taken matters into their hands and begun plundering the local graveyards.
Read on via The Gory New York City Riot that Shaped American Medicine.