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Leprosy in the Middle Ages - Essay Example

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This essay describes the topic of leprosy in the Middle Ages. The researcher also focuses on the discussion of the history of the desiase, it's symtoms and chronic bacterial infection, that can progressively attack the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes, causing permanent damage and local paralysis. …
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Leprosy in the Middle Ages
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"Leprosy in the Middle Ages"

Download file to see previous pages This essay focuses on the discussion of the Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, that is an debilitating disease which has been prevalent for over 4,000 years, right from the ancient civilizations of China, India and Egypt. The researcher states that the earliest documented case of leprosy, supported by DNA evidence, is that of a man whose remains were discovered in a tomb next to the Old City of Jerusalem. The first recorded instance of leprosy is found in the Bible. It is probable that the disease spread to Europe from Egypt through Phoenician sailors in the 8th century. The word leprosy has its roots in the Greek lepra, meaning ‘a disease which makes the skin scaly'. The primary external symptom is pronounced skin lesions. It is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. If unchecked, this chronic bacterial infection can progressively attack the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes, causing permanent damage, deformation, blindness, loss of neural sensation, and local paralysis. The mode of transmission of the disease is still not certain. Poor living conditions, diet and genetic factors may predispose an individual to contact leprosy. Treatment for leprosy began with the introduction of dapsone in the 1930s and complete cures were made possible by multidrug therapy in the 1980s. It is acknowledged that leprosy was a familiar disease in medieval Europe, and probably reached its peak during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the Middle Ages, leprosy was a serious problem which elicited unique social and medical responses. ...
In the Middle Ages, leprosy was a serious problem which elicited unique social and medical responses. Leprosy was a feared condition throughout the Middle Ages. This may be largely attributed to ignorance of its causes and medical implications, and the absence of any recognized treatment or cure. The Medieval diagnosis of leprosy, “was a prediction of disfigurement and death, and what is perhaps more terrifying, it separated a man from society because of the infection he carried outwardly and the moral corruption that lay within him” (Covey, 2001, 316). Biblical references supported this reaction to the disease. The numerous references to leprosy in the Bible largely give leprosy a connotation of being a disease of the unclean. This is evident in the passage from Leviticus 13: 44–46 which states, “Now whosoever shall be defiled with the leprosy, and is separated by the judgment of the priest, shall have his clothes hanging loose, his head bare, his mouth covered with a cloth, and he shall cry out that he is defiled and unclean. All the time that he is infected and unclean, he shall dwell alone without the camp” (Covey, 2001, 316). In effect, the Bible condemned leprosy as a ‘defilement’ and sanctioned the banishment of lepers from society. The most common attitude toward leprosy was ostracism, rising from the fear that leprosy was a highly contagious disease. In the light of this fear of contacting leprosy through association with lepers, medieval laws enforced segregation of lepers in various manners in different places. The 1276 assizes of London restricted the freedom of movement of lepers by banning them from residing in the city. This was followed by ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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