Fancy Living Digest:
French Trenches

A trench during World War I, crowded and unsanitary.

Life in a French Trench during WWI is most ideal for lice and other widespread diseases. As seen above, trenches were often crowded and unsanitary-perfect breeding and feeding grounds for body lice.

Pediculus humanus corporis, is responsible for body lice and is more commonly associated with poverty, overcrowding, and poor hygiene.

Decaying bodies make great meals for rats & vermin that can carry many diseases.

These men were suddenly  thrust together in an unusual existence - trench warfare -  with a climate that ranged over the year from the balmy to the ferociously  cold. Additionally, everywhere was well doused by frequent rainfall and  affected by seasonal snowfall and frost. Northern France could be particularly wet and inhospitable.

Throughout history, even relatively small concentrations of the military  have suffered from outbreaks of disease, ranging from the discomforting  to the catastrophic. These outbreaks were particularly associated with  static warfare such as sieges, or over-wintering in encampments. Epidemics of typhus, malaria, typhoid, diarrhea, yellow-fever,  pneumonia and influenza, generously amplified by innumerable cases of  venereal disease, and scabies.

Diseases commonly transmitted by vermin include:

Rat bite fever

Rat bite fever is caused by one of two bacteria, so will be able to respond to antibiotic treatment.  It is caused, as its name suggests, usually by a rat bite, although it can also be caught by exposure to droppings or urine.  This illness causes fever, inflamed joints, rash, and even ulcerations near the bite site.  It can also cause headaches and vomiting.  In untreated, severe cases, it can cause heart damage.  Although the disease will usually run its course without treatment, there is the possibility of a rare fatality, and without antibiotics, it can take a year or more to be free of the symptoms.

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome

Hantaviruses are carried and transmitted by rodents. People can become infected with these viruses and develop HFRS after exposure to aerosolized urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents or after exposure to dust from their nests. Transmission may also occur when infected urine or these other materials are directly introduced into broken skin or onto the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth. Transmission from one human to another may occur, but is extremely rare.

A louse, commonly found in the seams of clothing and on the bodies of soldiers.

The trenches in France are a great place to travel to for lice because fortunately for the lice population, conditions of trench warfare proved ideal for their rapid spread.

-Lice could only thrive in warm conditions; provided by body heat and clothing.

         -In spreading from person to person lice required close proximity of a new potential host; this was readily provided as men huddled together to preserve a degree of warmth.

Men would gather in groups to de-louse themselves. One method of eradicating lice was to run a lit candle along the seams of clothing, where lice would typically converge.

     -Don't worry though, your eggs often go unnoticed and the heat of the candle and your host's body will allow for your eggs to hatch within hours.

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