PENN'S  PLAGUES

PHILADELPHIA,  TUESDAY MORNING,  MARCH 10, 2020

WHAT PAST PHILA. EPIDEMICS CAN TELL US ABOUT THE RESPONSE TO COVID-19 

 

Philadelphia—

Introduction

Founded by William Penn in 1682 on the banks of the Delaware River, Philadelphia was, for a time, the largest city in America, the one-time U.S. capitol, and later, an industrial powerhouse with the world's busiest freshwater port. It has shaped American ideals and established innovative firsts, engaged in trade and commerce from its central position in the urban northeast.

 

What superlatives remain for the City of Brotherly Love remind us of the city's rich history, its innovative cultural spirit, its commercial connectivity, and its expansive population.

"On the 5th of August, I was requested by Dr Hodge to visit his child. I found it ill with a fever of the bilious kind, which terminated (with a yellow skin) in death on the 7th of the same month."

"... symptoms include extreme abdominal pain, violent diarrhea and vomiting, with parts of the intestines flaking off and being discharged as peculiar 'rice water.' Death comes rapidly from severe dehydration and shock in some forty to sixty percent of cases."

"As their lungs filled with rales the patients became short of breath and increasingly cyanotic. After gasping for several hours they became delirious and incontinent, and many died struggling to clear their airways of a blood-tinged froth that sometimes gushed from their nose and mouth. It was dreadful business."

"16 per cent died... Within less than a day there was a rapidly rising fever associated with shaking chills... Chest pain often accompanied the cough and was frankly pleuritic in a third of the cases. Dyspnea, abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms also occurred in many of the patients."

"Six patients had pneumonia... and one had necrotizing toxoplasmosis of the central nervous system. One of the patients with Pneumocystis pneumonia also experienced severe, recurrent, herpes simplex infection; extensive candidiasis; and cryptococcal meningitis."

Temple Anthropology Laboratory and Museum 

Gladfelter Hall- Lower Level, Temple University

1115 Polett Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122

anthlab@temple.edu

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