A very short post on the health of the Brontes and how this may have been affected by their pets . The following is a list of ailments I have come across and I have not had a chance to pursue the research so its submitted in its draft form primarily for the attention of those better qualified than myself.
Emily had Erysipelas which Charlotte mentions as reoccurring at least once in sept 1833 ( p 27 Juliette Barker Brontes a life in letters)
This is described as an acute, painful and potentially serious infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. The most common causative organisms are Streptococcus or Staphylococcus spp. More likely to occur in people who have a poor immune system – for example, if you take steroids or chemotherapy. But it also occurs from a number of other causes eg if the person has had an insect bite. or has skin problems such as eczema. or can be contracted from birds such as chickens geese etc and livestock such as pigs
You may feel unwell and have a fever. Indeed, the first symptom is often to feel feverish and shivery for up to 24 hours before any changes to the skin appear.
With erysipelas, the face or a leg are commonly affected. If erysipelas affects the face, infection has often travelled from the nasal (nose) passages from a recent infection of the nasal passages.
Treatment is by antibiotics,sometimes long term use is advised in cases where the complaint re occurs ,,a form of treatment unavailable in Emily’s day Anyone living prior to the advent of antibiotics would see the disease progress and often settle in the joints where it would cause a great deal of pain.
Emily may possibly have picked up the disease from the pet geese or the pet Canary or other birds handled either when preparing food or when nursing birds found on the moor (something she is known to have done)
The Brontes assortment of pets in a time before antibiotics and effective disinfectants may have been responsible for several of their minor aliments .Humans can be infected with the following disease by birds …
Allergic Alveolitis affects the alveoli of a person’s lungs, decreasing the lungs’ capacity and making it hard to move air through the lungs when breathing.
Psittacosis ,,Symptoms in humans may include fever, headache, muscle aches, a dry cough and shortness of breath.
: Giardia is a parasitic infection that can cause severe gastrointestinal upset in its hosts. Spread by ingesting contaminated food or water, Giardia causes weight and appetite loss, diarrhea, depression, and dehydration.
Diseases commonly contracted from cats
Cat-scratch disease, also called bartonellosis, is by far the most common disease caught from pets . Approximately 25,000 people are diagnosed every year in the United States alone . Cat-scratch disease can occur when a person is bitten or scratched by an infected cat or possibly Fleas may also play a role in the transmission of infection. People with cat-scratch disease usually have swollen lymph nodes, especially around the head, neck, and upper limbs. They may also experience fever, headache, sore muscles and joints, fatigue, and poor appetite. Healthy adults generally recover with no lasting effects, but it may take several months for the disease to go away completely. People with compromised immune systems may suffer more severe, even fatal, consequences.
Usually, a person who gets toxoplasmosis gets very few symptoms. But it can cause a flu-like illness and/or muscle aches and pains lasting for a month or even longer. “A very sizeable proportion of humans — 30%-40% — have been infected with toxoplasmosis, “Most people have a very very mild form of the disease or no symptoms at all. But in people [with weakened immune systems] it can be fatal.Recent work at the University of Leeds has found that the parasite produces an enzyme that may contribute to the behavioral changes by altering the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood, sociability, attention, motivation and sleep patterns.