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Common Illnesses & Causes of Death On the Goldfields
Transcript of Common Illnesses & Causes of Death On the Goldfields
Overall health during the gold rush was very poor. Diggers had unbelievably bad hygiene. They mainly became ill due to bathing in the same water that they'd drink. Colds were common and easily became pneumonia. Being drunk and lawless was common among the diggers resulting in fights and injuries.
Some of the Aboriginals (or as they were better known by at the time, native police) guarded the miners' gold from bush rangers, thieves, etc. They also helped guide settlers on their journeys.
The Aboriginals died in huge numbers after the First Fleet arrived. They not only died from being shot but also from the diseases that the Europeans had exposed them to. These illnesses affected them badly because they couldn't build up a proper immune system due to most of their injuries being from foraging and hunting as well as only having a few sicknesses. A few types of injuries they'd Some of the more common of these diseases were: measles, smallpox, chickenpox, German measles (Rubella), influenza, whooping cough, cold, fever, tuberculosis, venereal disease. The dense colonies only meant that the diseases spread faster. They also died of malnutrition because the Europeons chopped down trees as well as shrubs and the noise scared away game.
Aboriginals made possum skin cloaks that were highly sought after, selling for as much as £5, and was probably the best way to keep warm.
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Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a pneumoconiosis caused by inhaling fine silicate or quartz dust.
Scurvy is a disease caused to a diet lacking in vitamin C.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
African sleeping sickness is spread by tsetse flies’ bites.
Influenza is a disease occurring in several forms, caused by numerous rapidly mutating viral strains.
Typhoid is an infectious, often fatal disease, usually in the summer months, characterized by intestinal inflammation which usually comes from with food or drink.
Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs.
Dysentery is an infectious disease marked by inflammation in the lower part of the bowels.
Trachoma is a contagious infection of the conjunctiva and cornea.
Rheumatism is any disorder of the back, characterized by pain and stiffness.
Scarlet fever is a contagious disease caused by streptococci and characterized by a scarlet eruption.
Diphtheria is an infectious disease characterized by the formation of a false membrane in the air passages, especially the throat.
Autism is a developmental disorder of children, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment.
Emphysema is a irreversible disease of the lungs characterized by abnormal enlargement of air spaces in the lungs accompanied by destruction of the tissue lining the walls of the air spaces.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by fatigue and chronic pain in the muscles and in tissues surrounding the joints.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, caused by a virus or a toxin and characterized liver enlargement, and fever.
Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi , characterized by recurrent episodes of decreasing severity in which joint swelling, fever, and rash occur.
Measles are an infectious disease occurring mostly in children.
Malaria is any of a group of diseases characterized by attacks of chills, fever, and sweating: formerly supposed to be due to swamp exhalations but now known to be caused by a parasitic protozoan, which is transferred to the human bloodstream by a mosquito of the genus Anopheles and which occupies and destroys red blood cells.
Parkinson's disease is a common disease believed to be caused by deterioration of the brain cells that produce dopamine, occurring primarily after the age of 60, characterized by tremors, especially of the fingers and hands, muscle rigidity, shuffling gait, slow speech, and a masklike facial expression.
Pink eye is a contagious, epidemic form of conjunctivitis occurring in humans and certain animals.
Salmonellosis is food poisoning caused by consumption of food contaminated with bacteria, characterized by the sudden onset of abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
Smallpox is a highly contagious disease, caused by the variola virus, and characterized by a pustular eruption that often leaves permanent pits or scars.
Children (and elderly) were extremely vulnerable. They became ill easily and rarely survived. During the warmer months, snake and spider bites were something to worry about. Many children suffered from scarlet fever.
Glossary of Diseases
Some people sufered from mental illnesses but nobody understood it at the time so they put the 'dangerous' ones in centres and left the 'stable' ones to the care of family and friends.
Colds and fevers were common and often lethal during the gold rush.
Getting A Cure
Most ‘doctors, surgeons, dentists and pharmacists’ were not qualified. They often charged too much for their knowledge, therefore, only the rich could pay for treatment. The 'doctors' provided patent medicine and often gave a patient poison while reffering to it as 'medicine or a cure'.
The 'surgeons' had to make quick precise actions because there was no anesthetic. This resulted in it being excruciating for the patient when the surgeon made a false move.
Drinking was a self-medication for lonliness and other phychological afflictions. Exess drinking, however, causes hardening of the liver and increased risk of strokes or fatal collapses.