Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Home
Tree of LifeKeepers of the Biosphere
Dangerous Friends and Friendly Enemies
Creators of the Future

(home) Four Corners | The Frontlines (to Puzzle)

English Sweate
Infectious microbes have probably plagued humans as long as we have existed. History has been influenced by many diseases, such as the Bubonic Plague and the influenza pandemic during and after World War I. Eventually, as the victim count of these epidemics declined, the fear subsided, but few of these infectious diseases have completely disappeared. Many lay dormant and have reappeared from time to time, possibly mutated after the previous outbreak.

Dr. Vanya Gant, a physician specializing in infectious diseases at St. Thomas's Hospital in London; Guy Thwaites, a medical student; and Mark Traviner, a historian, joined forces to investigate a disease that plagued the English countryside in the 15ht and 16th centuries.

Between 1485 and 1551, there were five outbreaks of this dreaded disease. Several historical records describe the Sweate Sickness, and it was the subject of one of the first books ever printed about disease. It even changed history, taking the life of young Prince Arthur Tudor. After his death, his younger brother Henry the Eighth became King, paving the way for the English Reformation.

However, after 66 years, the Sweat disappeared entirely. History makes no more mention of the disease in England.

Guy Thwaites is convinced that the Sweating Sickness was a Hanta virus. Evidence for his conclusion included the fact that the disease only occurred in the summer and the cases were scattered across rural England -- all suggesting a rodent born disease.

Why the disease disappeared from rural England is still a mystery, but it demonstrates how some viruses may periodically lay dormant before appearing again, sometimes decades later.

(home) Four Corners | The Frontlines (to Puzzle)

 

   

Tree of Life | Biosphere | Friendly Enemies | New Age | Game of Life
Home | Site Map


Copyright © 1999 Oregon Public Broadcasting and PBS Online