Signs and Symptoms

Samuel K. Cohn

in Cultures of Plague

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199574025
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722530 | DOI:
 						Signs and Symptoms

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Focusing on records of the Milanese health board, this chapter examines the evolution of pestilential signs, symptoms, and modes of transmission from the Black Death to 1815. Against claims of historians and scientists, it shows that the early modern plague's skin disorders differed from those of the twentieth century's bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis). Moreover, by the mid–fifteenth century the plague had changed in one crucial aspect from the Black Death and plagues of the late fourteenth century: the pneumonic form—coughing and spitting blood—had disappeared completely; yet the early modern plagues remained highly contagious. In addition, the chapter compares the clinical observations of health‐board doctors with theoretical and academic treatises, finding that there were not two separate worlds of observation, the latter supposedly blinded by antique scientia.

Keywords: evolution; signs and symptoms; skin disorders; health boards; Milan; Black Death; pneumonic plague; clinical observation

Chapter.  18478 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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