Disease and Despair in Brittany

Bonjour From Brittany

While outbreaks of bubonic plague and their dreadful death tolls might have been consigned to history and efforts to eradicate coronavirus continue apace, other diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, smallpox, measles and influenza, were once responsible for extraordinary devastation here in Brittany.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, increases in population density, transport infrastructure and mercantile links were all key factors in giving diseases spread by cross-infection between humans the ability to spread far more widely than those seen in previous centuries.

Cholera, Typhoid, Smallpox, epidemic diseases Brittany

The first of several deadly outbreaks of cholera that ravaged Brittany in the 19th century was part of a worldwide pandemic that was believed to have started in India in 1826. The seemingly relentless march of this disease westwards saw the French government impose border controls in August 1831 to stop infected people from entering the country. However, the disease reached Paris in…

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