5 Hard-Earned Lessons from Past Pandemics

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tags: public health, pandemics, medical history

Humankind is resilient. While global pandemics like the Bubonic Plague and 1918 pandemic wreaked havoc on populations through the centuries, societies honed critical survival strategies. Here are five ways people adapted to life amid disease outbreaks.

1. Quarantine

The first quarantine was passed into law in the port city of Ragusa (today’s Dubrovnik) on July 27, 1377, during the Bubonic Plague, or Black Death. It stipulated: “Those who come from plague-infested areas shall not enter [Ragusa] or its district unless they spend a month on the islet of Mrkan or in the town of Cavtat, for the purpose of disinfection.” Doctors at the time observed that the spread of the Black Death could be slowed by isolating individuals.

Quarantine played a large role in how 20th-century American cities responded to the outbreak of the 1918 influenza pandemic, or Spanish flu, following the return of soldiers from World War I. In San Francisco, naval arrivals were quarantined before entering the city. In San Francisco and St. Louis, social gatherings were banned and theaters and schools were closed. Philadelphia became a test case in what not to do when, 72 hours after holding the ill-fated Liberty Loan parade in September, the city’s 31 hospitals were at capacity following the superspreader event.


Read entire article at History.com

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