Tag Archives | Bubonic Plague

The Terrifying Beaked Plague Mask Of Historical Europe

plague mask

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice on the disturbing origins of raven-nosed masks, which were worn by so-called “plague doctors” during times of mass death in Early Modern Europe:

The earliest textual description of the mask dates from the 17th century. Charles de Lorme, chief physician to Louis XIII and likely inventor behind the design, wrote:

The nose [is] half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with one [hole] on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak.

A coherent germ theory did not emerge until the mid-19th century – de Lorme was trying to protect himself miasma, or poisonous vapours associated with decomposition and foul air.

It is difficult to know how ubiquitous the plague mask was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most physicians fled the city during outbreaks, leaving the dying to fend for themselves.

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Footage Released Showing British Military’s 1952 Biological Warfare Experiments On Monkeys

The horrific testing, conducted in secret and dubbed Operation Cauldron, took place offshore on a ship near the Isle of Lewis. Over the course of several months, dozens of terrified monkeys and thousands of guinea pigs were subjected to "germ bombs" containing bubonic plague and other deadly diseases, with many of the animals dying after a few days. The project was part of the U.K. military's effort to develop biological weapons that could be used on real people in a potental war against the Soviets. Needless to say, the Ministry of Defence was reluctant to release the incredibly disturbing 47-minute film documenting the experiments:
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Plague: Oregon Man Contracts Yersinia Pestis Bacteria, Cause of the Black Death

Now those damned Ren-Fair kids have taken things too far. Writes Timothy Stenovec at the Huffington Post:
An Oregon man is in critical condition after being infected with the plague, the Oregonian reports. The man was bitten by a cat on Saturday, June 2, while trying to remove a dead mouse from the feline's mouth, according to the Crook County Department of Public Health and the Oregonian. The man checked himself into a hospital the following Friday. The Oregon Department of Public Health confirmed on Thursday that the unidentified man, who's in his 50s, has tested positive for Yersinia pestis, the same bacteria that was responsible for the pandemic that decimated Europe's population in the 14th century. The cat, which was a stray that had lived in the neighborhood for a number of years, has since died. Its body has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing...
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