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Disease During the Holocaust

A short summary of the diseases that were in the camps during the Holocaust.

Of the many things that were horrible in the camps during Nazi rule was disease. Some diseases that were present in the camps are as follows, Typhus, Typhoid, Dysentery, and Tuberculosis. The massive amount of disease was due to poor conditions in the camps. As there were no working sewer systems, excrement was every where. The people in the camp were not able to clean themselves readily, as there were few showers available, and they did not have a change of clothes. Also disease ran rampant because there were few, if any cures for them, and they had very few doctors in the camps. The doctors that were in the camps were most likely prisoners and they had no medicine or instruments.

Typhus is a disease spread by lice or fleas. The fleas and lice carry bacteria called, Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia prowazekii. Typhus has many symptoms including, abdominal pain, backache, rash, high fever, cough, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Death may occur to 10-60% of people with the disease. Ann Frank died of typhus at 15.

Typhoid Fever, another disease that many people had during the Holocaust, is received through infected water of food supply. Once one person it can spread rapidly form person to person. Typhoid fever is a bacteria called, Salmonella paratyphi. This bacteria multiplies in the gallbladder, bile conducts, or liver, and passes into the bowel. Typhoid Fever can be very difficult to get rid of, as the bacteria can survive for weeks in water or dried sewage. The illness last usually from about four to six weeks. The symptoms of Typhoid are poor appetite, headaches, aches and pains, fever, and diarrhea. The fatality rate of Typhoid is 20%. Though coupled with malnutrition in the camps, and the symptom of poor appetite it was much higher.

Dysentery is not a disease itself but rather a symptom for a potentially fatal illness. It technically is any bloody diarrhea. It is a body function, when it wants to get rid of something in the digestive system. This response is usually due to, E. histolytica amoeba, and shigella bacteria. These things thrive in water and food that has been contaminated with human feces. This can be contagious. Along with dysentery people usually have a fever, intense stomach pain, rapid weight loss, and cramps.

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by the bacteria called, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. People can become infected with the Tuberculosis Disease, by inhaling some of the bacteria. It can get into the air in many ways such as people who already have the disease, coughs, sneezes, shouts, or spits. Though it can not travel though touch, such as shaking hands or touching clothes. The spreading of the bacteria in the lungs can cause pneumonia. Certain lymph nodes may also be enlarged. Some symptoms of Tuberculosis are, weakness or tiredness, weight loss, fever, night sweats, coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The body can recover from tuberculosis, or the tuberculosis can lie dormant for a period of time, which can become active.

People with diseases were kept in a room called Durchgangszimmer, meaning walk-through room in German. If the doctor declared the patient terminal they would be killed quickly by SS soldiers. In German POW camps as an extra prevention against typhus the prisoner’s head was shaved within minutes of arriving at the camp. There were many large epidemics of disease during the Holocaust, including one large one of Typhus in June of 1942 in Auschwitz. Disease was a leading cause of death in the Ghettos. Disease claimed many lives during the Holocaust

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    On May 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm


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