One of the Worst Jobs in History: Plague Doctor

Plague Doctor a regular sight in plague riddled Europe (image not my own)

Plague Doctor a regular sight in plague riddled Europe (image not my own)

Ok this idea came to me as yes I am reading the current Dan Brown book Inferno which features heavily plague. (Please note its escapism and I like the central character but by no means do I think that this is great literature) This plus the fact I am job hunting at the moment and quite frankly it is frustrating feckless and demoralizing. Then I thought there must be some pretty grim jobs that thankfully we no longer have to do.


One such job that sprang to minds that of the Plague Doctor. As a frequent vistor to Venice the image of the medico della peste is a common sight especially during the Carnival season. However Venice like all of Europe was struck by the plague many times over the centuries. Port cities and states were most susceptible to the disease as it was carried from the East on trade ships rats carrying fleas were the cause.


The Doctors would wear the mask with its distinctive beak like nose that was filled with sweet smelling herbs and spices as it was thought Plague was carried in bad smell.


Although some people did recover from the death 98% died there was very little that the Doctors could do to help their patients which must have been very frustrating to a profession that looks to save lives.


These brave men (yes they were men) would go amongst the dead and dying putting themselves at great risk when what those sick really needed was priests not a Doctor.


So regardless of what I manage to secure as a job I must remember that it cannot be as bad or dangerous as that of medico della peste.

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