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Diarrhoea, Dysentery, and the Clap: Connecting the Military Lifestyle to Literary & Skeletal Evidence of Reactive Arthropathy Induced by Bacterial Infections

Banton, M; (2017) Diarrhoea, Dysentery, and the Clap: Connecting the Military Lifestyle to Literary & Skeletal Evidence of Reactive Arthropathy Induced by Bacterial Infections. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Military combatants are frequently exposed to physical exertion, sleep deprivation, deficient diets, and stress, which can all reduce the immune system’s ability to ward off infections. Making matters worse, combatants frequently inhabit overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions, which allow bacteria to thrive. As a result of these circumstances, the military lifestyle is associated with increased exposure and susceptibility to infectious diseases. This explains why epidemics are extremely common during times of war, especially in pre-twentieth century conflicts. Though military infectious diseases have been the topic of much research, bioarchaeological contributions have been limited, as most infectious diseases do not cause direct skeletal changes. For example, diarrhoea, dysentery, gonorrhea, and tonsillitis do not cause skeletal changes, but all are known to have been common among historical combatants. Though direct skeletal changes are not produced, the pathogenic bacteria causing these ailments can trigger reactive arthropathies (arthritic conditions caused by microbial infections), which includes the Spondyloarthropathies. Spondyloarthropathies cause skeletal changes and can be observed in archaeological remains. As such, the present research has chosen to explore the potential consequences of military infectious disease by answering the following question: were reactive arthropathies an occupational hazard to past military combatants? This question is answered through two methods. First, historical research methods were employed to investigate the primary research question and to provide a detailed medical history of the emblematic example of reactive arthropathy, Reactive Arthritis. Secondly, a palaeoepidemiological study was designed and implemented to understand the prevalence of reactive pathology in military skeletal assemblages; this is a novel bioarchaeological means of understanding the potential impact of military infectious diseases.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Diarrhoea, Dysentery, and the Clap: Connecting the Military Lifestyle to Literary & Skeletal Evidence of Reactive Arthropathy Induced by Bacterial Infections
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Spondyloarthropathies, Erosive Arthropathies, Military Combatants, Palaeopathology, Bioarchaeology
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1554716
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