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  1. I enjoyed this post, which coincided with my reading of Christina Lee’s essay on disease and impairment in the Material Culture of Daily Living book. I had never thought about malaria in England, always associating it with tropical climes, forgetting about all those marshes.
    One query I have for you in relation to disease transmission is “leprosy.” We are quite sensitive about that word here in Hawai`i and the offensive noun leper (see Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai and the work of Saint/Father Damien and Sister Marianne Cope, currently undergoing beatification). The preference is to refer to Hansen’s Disease for the specific illness and to be quite guarded about identifying historical references to leprosy as Hansen’s as compared to a wide range of other skin diseases, communicable or not.
    Nonetheless, I continue to see references to “leprosy” in medieval studies as if it is unproblematic. Certainly the Biblical injunctions and stories plays a role in the construction of leprosy in the Anglo-Saxon mind. But I think it would be best to simply use “skin disease” instead of leprosy, and Hansen’s when a reference can be clearly identified as such.
    Your thoughts?

    1. As far as I know, in early medieval sources leprosy is a general term for skin diseases. Unless there are clear symptoms of Hansen’s like loss of feeling or pain sensations I would go with a non-Hansen’s disease skin disorder. In the Irish annals leprosy is given as one of the symptoms of bubonic plague, and elsewhere as a word for smallpox; ‘leprosy, that is (Irish for smallpox)’.

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