Plague - A Painting

Dr Sampurna Roy MD


The Great Plague 1665 a beautiful oil painting by a history painter, Rita Greer. 

Like many who could afford to, Robert Hooke left London for six months during the worst of the bubonic plague. All cats and dogs were destroyed as a preventive measure. This allowed rats to flourish and spread the disease which was carried by their fleas. The image shows a scene of horror. After sunset carts were driven through the streets to collect the dead. They were taken to the nearest graveyard to be buried in plague pits. Fires burned to make smoke. Pipes of tobacco were smoked, posies of herbs worn and faces covered with masks. This was thought to be protection against contagion. London was overwhelmed with fear, terror and grief. It is thought that as many as 100,000 perished in London alone.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

"Man and rat will always be pitted against each other as implacable enemies," - quote from Hans Zinsser's text Rats, Lice, and History.  Diseases Transmitted by Man's Worst Friend: the Rat. Microbiol Spectr. 2015 Dec;3(6). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.IOL5-0015-2015.

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