Deadly Victorian Diseases

Even if there still are diseases we have to worry about, modern medicine has come a loooong way. We’re not scared of chickenpox, cholera, and measles anymore because we have pretty much eliminated them. 

But life wasn’t always that way. Have you ever thought about how many diseases and illnesses people of old times had to deal with? The list is endless!

So today, I’m going to list 3 of the most deadly Victorian diseases; some of them still present, but easily defeatable!

1. Scarlet Fever

I like the name (reminds me of my ​name), but hate it for what it is. 

Most commonly appearing in kids younger than 15, Victorians were more than right to be scared of it. 

The earliest proof of its existence is from 1553, when a Sicilian physiologist named it rossalia. They made it very clear that it was unlike anything they had seen before, something which terrified many people. After that, more names were given to it, such as: scalatina anginosa, scarlatinal desquamation, Duke’s disease e.t.c 

Needless to say, this disease made its trip around the world. 

The symptoms (some of them) are distinct from other illnesses and this is what helped them know what they dealt with. Sore throat, fever and fatigue is pretty standard, but the enlarged tongue, the red rashes and the horribly vomiting is the “unique” part of it. 

There have been modern recordings of Scarlet Fever, but the use of antibiotics has now  made it non lethal 🙂

2. Typhoid

It’s very difficult to track down an illness and determine when it first appeared, in general. They usually have a rough estimate, but it’s never going to be completely accurate. 

Jamestown, an English colony in Virginia, is thought to have been strongly affected by this disease. It certainly didn’t die out, but there are many records proving that it changed the course of life for those people. 

It didn’t discriminate between rich and poor. Even Prince Albert the husband of Queen Victoria contracted typhoid and died from it.

It sadly is transmitted from person to person, which might explain why it proves to be so fatal, even today. At its worst, typhoid can cause internal bleeding and perforation, and even surgery might be needed for proper restoration of the damage caused by it. 

The vaccine for typhoid, today, is recommended mostly for people who travel abroad, and isn’t required for people who already live in the country.

3. Cholera

This is perhaps the most deadly one of all, as the dehydration due to the symptoms is enough to kill an adult in just mere hours. England has had more than just one outbreak of this disease and millions of deaths have been caused by it. 

It’s currently rare in the UK, but not so rare around the world. Hundreds of thousands die each year, but obviously that number doesn’t compare to how many used to die. 

Diarrhea is the main symptom of this disease and can come very suddenly, causing the average human to lose up to 1 litre an hour! Death is mainly caused from dehydration due to that. 

Vomiting is another symptom and accompanied by diarrhea, it’s an endless circle.

I wish people had the necessary vaccines and medicine back then. Lots of deaths could have been prevented from its horrifying grip.

I know this isn’t the most positive of articles, but I found myself wondering what diseases Victorians had to deal with. I wanted to know more about their life (and maybe research for future novels 😉 ), especially with us being in the middle of a pandemic. 

What do you think? 🙂 Would you like to see more informative articles like this one?

-Written by ​Scarlett Osborne

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