In addition to being devastating to the landscape and population, World War One was devastating to the human body. Yes, there were the horrific wounds, but there were also diseases that were otherwise rarely seen. These diseases were given the nickname “trench” because that is where they originated.
Type of infection: Bacterial, transmitted by lice
Symptoms: Abnormal sensitivity in the shins, fever, headache, muscle soreness, eye pain
Duration: Five days
Course of the illness: Muscle soreness continues even after fever breaks
Prognosis: Rarely fatal, but too high of a fever can lead to heart damage
Prevention: Cleanliness and eliminating the lice infestation, next to impossible in the trenches
Type of infection: Fungal
Symptoms: Feet turn red then blue, swelling, blisters, can smell like decay
Duration: Two to six weeks followed by months of recovery
Course of the illness: In advanced cases, leads to gangrene and amputations
Prognosis: Varies, depending on severity
Prevention: Improved drainage in trenches, waterproof footwear, frequently changing into dry socks
Type of infection: Bacterial
Symptoms: Swelling of the gums as well as ulcers on the gums, fever, bleeding, bad breath
Duration: If not properly treated, can spread beyond the gums and infect the jawbone, lips and cheeks
Course of the illness: Caused when the bacteria normally present in the mouth grows out of control
Prognosis: Depends on severity of the infection as gum tissue is destroyed. Teeth may fall out.
Prevention: Good oral hygiene, proper nutrition, not smoking, controlling stress
What was your first thought when you saw the photo of the trench rot patient? Leave a comment below.
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