By Oisin Sweeney • 07 December 2020 • 8:15
DOCTORS in Canada have detected the ‘trench fever’ disease that infected over a million WW1 soldiers in a former homeless man.
The disease, known as ‘trench fever‘, is caused by the Bartonella Quintana bacterium which is spread through the faeces of body lice. Over a million soldiers are thought to have contracted the fever during the First World War, mainly due to appalling conditions endured during trench warfare. Symptoms include recurring fever, pain in the back and shins, intense headaches, and dizziness. In fatal cases, it can cause endocarditis, the inflaming of the heart.
Trench fever was detected during a medical survey of a former homeless man in Winnipeg, Canada, when doctors were treating him for heart pain. He is the third member of the city’s vulnerable community to contract the disease in the last 6 months, prompting outcry about the conditions endured by homeless people. In the case of one patient, the disease led to brain bleeding which rendered him paralysed with speech problems.
The 48-year-old was a former drug addict who was HIV positive and recently homeless. Doctors found bite marks across his skin from lice, as well as an enlarged spleen and blocked lung vessels. He was placed on a ventilator and given valve replacement therapy when scans revealed extensive heart damage. Following his operation and treatment, he is reportedly over the worst of his illness.
“This is a disease of wartime conditions, it is a disease of refugee camps, and it is something that a lot of industrialised societies still struggle with,” said Dr. Carl Boodman of Manitoba University, “It just reflects that fact that there are people in our society who live in conditions that we shouldn’t tolerate”.
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Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...
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