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The Sweating Sickness

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What exactly was the 'sweating sickness' that took so many lives in England during the 16th century?

An article originally published in 1997, entitled The English Sweating Sickness, begins;
In the summer of 1485, a rapidly fatal infectious fever struck England... Sudor Anglicus, later known as the English sweating sickness, was characterized by sudden headaches, myalgia [muscle pain], fever, profuse sweating, and dyspnea [labored respiration]. Four additional epidemics were reported in the summers of 1508, 1517, 1528, and 1551, after which the disease abruptly disappeared.
The article goes on to investigate the cause of the disease and draws some tentative conclusions about a viral cause. However, the authors then explain that without molecular confirmation from the tissues of victims, any hypothesis about the cause of English sweating sickness remains speculative.
John CaiusBritannica.com provides additional detail or more current speculation;
John Caius, an English physician and author of a 1552 account of the epidemic, attributed it to dirt and filth, although one 20th century writer notes its resemblance to infectious "relapsing fever," which was transmitted by lice and ticks.


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