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by Scout Smitherman

In the Elizabethan Era from 1550-1650, illnesses and diseases were prevelant throughout England. Since England was and is a monarchy, everyone except the kings and queens were poor. Children would run in the streets and come home dirty, but did not take baths as often as they should. People never had enough food (royalty always had more than enough), and their water was unclean. Many lived together and came into contact all the time. Mainly, you went to the bathroom where ever. These poor living conditions led to many diseases and illnesses, and many died deaths that could have been easily prevented. There were all kinds of common illnesses, a few serious epidemics, and many reason why disease seemed to never decrease in that time period.

There were tons of common illnesses/diseases. Some of them were malaria, stones, venereal diseases (like syphilis), dysentry (infection of the intestines) , measles, typhus (transmitted by body lice and was common in sailors, soldiers, and in jails), and scurvy (from a lack of Vitamin C) (Singman 52). There was a plague called the Spitting Plague which made you cough and spit blood (Salariya 17). Mental illness was common (Picard 95-96) and so was sweating illness . This made you suffer a high fever and you died in 24 hours. Other common diseases include anaemia, rheumatism, and arthritis.

There were some epidemics as well. Although these were less common, they were much more severe and if you got one, you most likely died. One epidemic was New Ague, which was influeza and lasted 3 years. Smallpox was a major epidemic. The upper class was especially hit with it-Queen Elizabeth I almost died (Singman 52). Her maid-in-waitin got it, too, and she scarred so bad that she never showed in court again. Tuberculosis was another epidemic (affecting body tissues-mainly the lungs), and, of course, the black death was the most dreaded of all (Picard 93-94).

There were many reasons England suffered from so many illnesses (Singman 52). Crowded conditions and and poor sanitation increased the risk of disease. Sewage was not removed properly which was a major factor in health conditions (Singman 82). Other reasons of disease were that people let their animals live in their house with them, rarely washed, and had poor diets. Vermin (rats) were a major problem, as well. Also, doctors did not treat their patients correctly and with sanitation, making the condition worse. Because of this, only 7 or 8 children out of 10 live births lived, but only half of them made it to 10. Poor people were not expected to live beyond 25, and if you were 43, you were considered very lucky and old (Singman 39).

In conclusion, England suffered many deaths, and its healthcare needed to use better sanitation. You pretty much knew, unless you were , that you were going to die when you caught something. You were most likely going to die even if you just had an arm or leg amputated, because of the doctor's lack of cleaning. There were many common diseases, major epidemics, and the reasons why England had so many diseases that could have been easily avoided. Since you died from anything you got, the only difference between common illnesses and plagues was that more people died from plagues!

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