Poxed and Scurvied: The Story of Sickness and Health at Sea

Overview

As sailors began to explore the world and leave land further astern, the problem of keeping healthy on long voyages became acute. Malnourishment and crowded conditions bred disease, and serious injury was commonplace. Furthermore, sailors carried epidemics that decimated indigenous populations in far off lands, while they brought back new diseases like syphilis, thought to have been contracted on the Columbus expeditions to North America.

As navies developed, the well-being of ...

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Overview

As sailors began to explore the world and leave land further astern, the problem of keeping healthy on long voyages became acute. Malnourishment and crowded conditions bred disease, and serious injury was commonplace. Furthermore, sailors carried epidemics that decimated indigenous populations in far off lands, while they brought back new diseases like syphilis, thought to have been contracted on the Columbus expeditions to North America.

As navies developed, the well-being of crews became a dominant factor in the success of naval operations, so it is no surprise that the Royal Navy led the way in shipboard medical provision, and sponsored many of the advances in diet and hygiene which by the Napoleonic Wars gave its fleets a significant advantage over all its enemies; and these improvements trickled down to the merchant service. Two particularly harsh maritime environments, the slave trade and emigrant ships, both of which required special medical arrangements, are also described here and in all their medical horror.

Eventually, the struggle to improve the fitness of seamen became a national concern, manifest in a series of far-reaching - and sometimes bizarre - public health measures, generally directed against the effects of drunkenness and the pox. In this way, as in many others, an attempt to address the specific needs of the seafarer developed wider implications for society as a whole. Any number of scientific breakthroughs were of universal benefit, so, far from being a narrow study of medicine at sea, this book provides a fascinating picture of social improvement.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591148098
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2011
  • Pages: 246
  • Sales rank: 996,081
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Deadly Cargoes 1

2 Surgeon's Mate 19

3 Sick and Hurt 41

4 Plague of the Sea 62

5 England's Expectations 84

6 Middle Passage 104

7 Huddled Masses 120

8 Sea Airs 144

9 Bright and Breezy 163

10 Stormy Waters 181

Notes 204

Bibliography 229

Index 241

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