The Future of Fashion in the Aftermath of a Global Pandemic

When it was scientifically proven that excessive sun exposure could lead to premature aging and skin cancer, the textile industry responded by creating fabrics with SPF.  The fashion industry responded by creating wearable clothing with built in sunscreen. Cosmetic & beauty manufacturers responded by adding sunscreen to everything from foundation to lipstick.

Fast forward to the present day, where global pandemic, COVID-19 has all but shut down the planet.

COVIC-19 is one of a large family of coronaviruses typically associated with the common cold. However, COVID-19 is a new contagion that had not been previously identified in humans.  It is believed to have been spread through animal to human contact and is now spreading rapidly through person-to-person contact  – being even more contagious than the flu.  In the afflicted, COVID-19 can run the gamut of mild-flu like symptoms, to rapid and severe onset of pneumonia, to death.

Worldwide states of emergency have been called.  People are self-isolating and social distancing. There are no parties, events, or going out to restaurants or movies. Many people are working from home and many others are no longer working at all.  People are being forced to find new, innovative ways to connect – text, phone calls, video chats, social media, online workout classes, or spending time in their own yards, chatting with neighbors while keeping a 6ft distance. In this time of “lockdown”, humanity is being forced to evaluate what is truly important in their lives: food, shelter, health, family and human connection.

Now, with the global economy in crisis and the fashion industry losing money hand over bejeweled fist, companies are going to have to come up with even more innovative ways to generate profit.

Currently, fashion and beauty houses have responded to the world PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage through the manufacturing of protective masks, as well as the manufacturing of hand sanitizer in lieu of fragrances. Some fashion houses (mainly large) are doing this via donation, while smaller houses/designers are creating and selling these items privately, in order to try to keep their smaller business afloat.

I believe that once the pandemic has been managed/contained, people may still be hesitant to go back to a life without copious use of hand sanitizer and obsessively washing their hands. I expect people will still be a bit shell-shocked that this actually really happened – and happened so quickly. We have seen firsthand, that life as we know it, can change in an instant – in the instant it takes to become infected or to infect others.

While humanity is still reeling from the aftershocks of COVID-19, I would hazard a guess that fashion and beauty manufacturers may start taking a more serious look at fashion vs. luxury vs. functionality through the lens of global contagion. I expect we will see designer hand sanitizer available in limited edition designer bottles as well as seeking to manufacture fabrics with better antibacterial/microbial properties and/or splash resistant qualities. I also expect to see an extensive array of designer face masks, gloves and protective eyewear – becoming the hottest, most sought after items in fashion accessories.

So, once this is all over, dedicated followers of fashion may well just forget about that new shade of lipstick… preferring to check out that Louis Vuitton designer logo face mask made with polypropylene, instead!

Race Against The Disease – Modern Day Protective Medical Costume as an Adaptation of the 17th Century Plague Physician’s Costume

I wrote this university paper back in 2013.  Since that time, some things in the world have changed, expanded & adapted, but I still think it might …

Race Against The Disease – Modern Day Protective Medical Costume as an Adaptation of the 17th Century Plague Physician’s Costume

Race Against The Disease – Modern Day Protective Medical Costume as an Adaptation of the 17th Century Plague Physician’s Costume

I wrote this university paper back in 2013.  Since that time, some things in the world have changed, expanded & adapted, but I still think it might be of some small interest in today’s current global situation…

Humans are an evolutionary miracle. We are hard-wired for survival. We are constantly adapting to our planet and environment, not unlike cells inside an organism. Our adaptation is based on what we continue to learn about our planet, ourselves and disease, and we do this through our biology, intellect and also our wardrobe. From a social perspective, we have developed a form of clothing for every occasion: weddings, funerals, job interviews and courting, to name only a few. However, from a biological and survival perspective, we have also developed clothing to provide protection from the elements, such as heat, cold and moisture. We have even developed clothing to help protect us from disease. But as we adapt, diseases also adapt, and in turn, we must continue to adapt in order to protect ourselves from our environment as a whole, in an effort to ensure the survival of our species.

Over the centuries, society has continually been faced with epidemics – the Justinian Plague, the Black Plague, the Bubonic Plague, Ebola Virus, SARS, MRSA, and Influenza, for example. And through each epidemic, human survival mechanisms have adapted – starting with an early belief in magic and the protection of primitive talismans and amulets.

[1]http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/L0023027.html L0014678Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Amulet for the protection of Moses David son of Esther from plague, recto and leather case Library reference no.: Or Ms A27

We then moved to the use of herbs/apothecary-inspired remedies, the benefits of quarantine, and of a healthy diet and exercise. Over time, through a better understanding of diseases and our bodies through observation, science and biology, our knowledge continued to evolve to formulate medications, vaccinations and ultimately clothing, to help protect our bodies from contagion, continually working towards longer life spans and the survival of our species. Through time, trial and error, a better understanding of disease and communicability was gleaned, and it was eventually proven and acknowledged that clothing and proper hygiene had prophylactic benefits[2]. Also, over time, because we continually learn more about communicable diseases through research, study, trial and error, we have continued to adapt and improve upon our garment construction techniques in order to develop better fabrics, seam closures and filtration systems. For example, we have worked to improve upon the specifics and details of protective garment construction. We have done this to help protect ourselves from disease while we help the afflicted and continue to learn even more about disease as it continually adapts. Some examples of today’s protective clothing would be the biohazard suit and the protective clothing worn by healthcare professionals in direct contact with communicable, or potentially communicable disease.

This paper will argue that the modern-day (2013) biohazard suit and protective clothing of health care professionals are little more than an adaptation of the seventeenth century plague physician’s costume. The plague physician costume was made popular during the bubonic plague of 1665 in London, England, and has become the identifying, iconic image for the seventeenth century ‘plague physician’. It was necessary for this adaptation to occur in tandem with man’s increasing knowledge of science, biology and disease – and must continually adapt as diseases adapt and our knowledge increases, with one always vying to keep ahead of the other.

Upon conducting a review of the recent literature on the identifying costume of modern-day physicians, four themes were evident. Sources discovered simply noted the ‘white coat’ (and stethoscope) as being the modern identifying costume of a physician that distinguishes him or her from the general population[3] [4]. Other sources discussed the sense of identity provided to the physicians by the wearing of a white coat[5] [6] [7], and also looked at the white coat from an infection control perspective, in the sense of it being constructed from washable, reusable fabric, and a potential breeding ground for germs [8] [9] [10] Additional literature mainly focuses on the attitudes of physicians in the wearing of the white coat, as well as the feelings and attitudes of patients in respect to the identifying costume of physicians. Research shows that patients often have more respect, or even experience fear or intimidation, when a person is identified as a physician[11] [12]. Although all of this literature was helpful, none of it addresses the concerns raised in this paper in their entirety.

A review of primary printed sources revealed that the seventeenth century plague physician costume was notable due to its disturbing image in combination with the devastating impact of the plague, which claimed approximately 100,000 lives. Sketches from that period are seen to depict the devastations of the plague, along with images of the plague physician, and thus the plague physician became synonymous with death and devastation. Several well-known citizens of that period, such as Samuel Pepys, through his diaries, and Daniel DeFoe, through his literary fiction, based on fact, made occasional reference to the horrors and devastation of the plague. For example, in a diary entry on September 14, 1665, Pepys writes,

“…my meeting dead corps’s of the plague, carried to be buried close to me at noonday through the City in Fanchurch-street – to see a person sick of the sores carried close by me by Grace-church in a hackney-coach…to hear that poor Payne my waterman hath buried a child and is dying himself – to hear that a labourer I sent but the other day to Dagenhams to know how they did there is dead of the plague and that one of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he had landed me on Friday morning last, when I had been all night upon the water … is now dead of the plague – …the plague this week – doth put me into great apprehensions of melancholy, and with good reason[13].

And Daniel DeFoe, in his novel, A Journal of the Plague Year, writes,

(93)”Though the plague was chiefly among the poor, yet were the poor the most venturous and fearless of it, and went about their employment with a sort of brutal courage; I must call it so, for it was founded neither on religion or prudence; scarce did they use any caution, but run into any business which they could get employment in, though it was the most hazardous. Such was that of tending the sick, watching houses shut up, carrying infected persons to the pesthouse, and, which was still worse, carrying the dead away to their graves”[14].

Although Pepys and DeFoe made references to the plague outbreak and even occasionally named some of the well-known physicians during that period, their writings are predominantly concerned with bills of mortality, socializing, social status, costs for food, what they ate and drank and with whom; and not contain specific descriptions of the plague physician costume or even what physicians were wearing in general. Thus, the information gathered on the seventeenth century physician costume was obtained from disparate sources.

While the iconic image of the ‘bird mask’ easily identifies a seventeenth century physician, in reality, his day-to-day costume was basically the same as that of a middle to upper class Englishman. This costume first consisted of a collar or band shirt, and a doublet that was either sleeveless or with sleeves, ending below the elbow. During this period, doublets were straight and not fitted through the body and ended just a few inches above the waist. A below the knee-length coat, called a vest/waistcoat, was worn over the breeches which were short, straight pants, ending at the knee. Also fashionable, were full breeches that were drawn in to tie at the knee or ‘petticoat’ breeches, which were similar to modern-day culottes. Stockings called ‘hose’, gauntlet-style gloves, and periwigs were also worn. Men who were supportive of the British Royal Family often wore wide-brimmed hats with low crowns, usually decorated with feathers[15].

[16] Men’s Suit of Clothing from 1670, as seen at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Londonhttps://pinterest.com/pin/137570963590088874/

While today’s association of the modern-day physician is with the white coat and stethoscope, with the exception of the actual plague physician costume, what typically identified a seventeenth century physician from the general population was the carrying of a specific ‘cane’.

“The physician’s cane is a very ancient part of his insignia. It is not disused, but up to very recent times no doctor of medicine would have presumed to pay a professional visit, or even to be seen in public, without this mystic wand. Long as a footman’s stick, smooth and varnished, with a heavy gold knob or cross-bar at the top, it was an instrument with which, down to the present century, every prudent aspirant to medical practice was provided…this knob in olden times was hollow, and contained a vinaigrette, which the man of science always held to his nose when he approached a sick person, so that its fumes might protect him from the noxious exhalations of his patient”[17].

Additionally, in colder weather, physicians could further be distinguished by the wearing of fur muffs, which were worn over their hands to keep them warm. For example, Jeaffreson writes that they were worn during winter so that the physician “…might have his hands warm and delicate of touch, as so be able to discriminate to a nicety the quality of his patient’s arterial pulsations, he made his rounds, in cold weather, holding before him a large fur muff, in which his fingers and fore-arms were concealed[18].”

Other than the actual plague costume, on a day-to-day basis, the clothing of modern-day physicians and seventeenth century physicians was not that different from that of the general populous. Only a few specific items distinguished them as physicians – the seventeenth century physician carried a specific cane, while today’s physician wears a stethoscope and often a white coat. However, it was during the infamous outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in 1665, London, England, that the plague physician, in striving for some protection against this deadly disease, donned the unforgettable plague physician costume that made it become what we think of today as the costume of a seventeenth century physician.

The bubonic plague outbreak in 1665 – 1666 London, was a disease that reportedly killed roughly 15% of London’s population. While 68,596 deaths in the city were formally recorded; the actual number of deaths is thought to have likely totalled over 100,000[19].

During the outbreak, it was originally thought that the causes of the plague ranged from the Wrath of God, to infection from pets, such as cats and dogs, many of which were slaughtered, to the theory of miasmas. A miasma was thought to be air that had been poisoned with germs or toxic, foul smelling fumes, possibly from rotting debris that could cause illness. Some of the potential transmission routes for contagion were thought to be by breathing in this foul air, from person to person or from someone’s foul breath or clothing[20].

Today, the Bubonic Plague is most commonly believed to have been caused by fleas that were infected with the bacterium, yersinia pestis, found predominantly on black rats. While yersinia pestis is primarily a rodent disease, if an outbreak of the disease kills many of the host rats, then, in order to survive, fleas sometimes “turn their attention to the less attractive human host”[21].

This knowledge was formally discovered later in 1894 when a French doctor by the name of Alexandre Yersin discovered the bacterium, bearing his name that causes bubonic plague. The Bubonic Plague is “characterized by an enlarged, painful lymph node or nodes in the armpits, groin and/or neck, termed a bubo that develops after bacterial dissemination from a fleabite site. In susceptible animals, the bacteria rapidly escape containment in the lymph nodes, spread systemically through the blood, and produce fatal sepsis”[22]. Ironically, during the plague, a physician by the name of Dr. Garencieres noted that plague tokens found on the body, were “small, round, hard and red, [and looked] like flea bites”. Thus, local almanacs began to list fleas on their checklists of vermin that should be kept clear from people’s homes, which was inadvertently helpful to the cause[23].

The plague was thought to have originated in the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Field, which was a poor and overcrowded section of London. In areas of poverty and overcrowding, combined with a lack of appropriate hygiene, there would likely be a variety of rats, including black rats. And, as a “rat flea can survive for many weeks in clothing, furniture, grain, or other commodities[24] [25], it is not surprising that many people were regularly bitten by potentially infected fleas.

Symptoms of the plague often took one to seven days to appear and

“One of the best contemporary descriptions of the symptoms and signs of the plague is given by [Dr. William] Boghurst [a physician practising in the St. Giles-in-the-Fields are of London]. The patients suffered from headache, fever, shivering, vomiting and ‘melancholy, sighing and sadness of spirit’, often changing to delirium in the later stages. The typical signs included carbuncles, buboes and tokens. The bubo, ‘a white soft suddaine puft up Tumour on the necke, behind the eares, in the Armepitt or in the flanke’ was very painful until it broke down and suppurated, when the patient might recover. [Dr. Nathanial] Hodges noted that tokens, red or purple spots due to bleeding into the skin, were a particularly unfavorable sigh; even on an individual without other signs of the disease they were an indication that death would follow within a few hours[26].”

Early medical treatments were of little use to those suffering from the plague. However, some treatments thought to be of help in removing the toxins from the body were emetics, purgatives, sweating, bloodletting, and bleeding with leeches. Also noted were prescriptions for:

“plague-waters, elixirs, electuaries, lozenges and powders. For the local treatment of buboes the raw tail region of a living cock, hen, pigeon or chicken whose tail feathers have been plucked, is to be applied to the swelling to draw out the poison”. Another physician, Dr. George Thomson, burned sulfur beside plague bodies and hung “a dead toad from his neck”. “Amulets were a feature of folk medicine at that time…such as to ‘ware a quill as is filled with quicksliver and sealed up with hard waxe and soed up in a silke thinge with a string to ware about your neck, this as sartine as any thinge is to keep one from taking of the Plage”[27].

[28]L0002324 Credit: Wellcome Library, London Library reference no.: Slide number 1493
The King’s medicine for the plague. A receipe for the prevention of plague. From: The King’s medicine for the plague, Published. Coles & T. VereLondon 1665 Collection: Rare Books

[29]L0002323EACredit: Wellcome Library, London Library reference no.: Slide number 1494
From: The King’s medicine for the plague Published:F. Coles & T. VereLondon 1665 Collection: Rare Books

Preventatively, individuals attempted to keep their homes free from the plague by burning “tar, pitch, niter, frankincense and rosin in the room…,[30]” or by throwing quicklime and herbs onto coals in order to create a purifying steam which would clean the air of miasmas[31].

[32]L0058229 Credit Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images
Fumigating torches were used in the 1600s to protect the carrier from bubonic plague. Sweet smelling herbs burnt in the top of the torch were thought to protect against disease. Both the buboes caused by the disease and the breath of the dying smelt foul and it was thought that disease was spread by rancid smells. Plague seemed to spread quickly from person to person but was later discovered to be spread by the fleas carried on rats. Henry Wellcome did his utmost to acquire objects for his collection. He was not always successful. Undeterred, he would seek permission to have copies made of those objects he could not acquire.  maker: Unknown maker; Place made: Europe; made: Unknown Collection: Wellcome Images; Library reference no.: Science Museum A629411

[33]L0057481 Credit Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images
In the 1600s, fumigating torches were believed to protect the carrier from bubonic plague. Sweet smelling herbs burnt in the top of torch were believed to provide protection against disease. At the time, it was thought that disease was spread through foul smelling things – the buboes caused by the disease and the breath of the dying both smelt disgusting. Plague seemed to be passed quickly from person to person but it was only in the 1890s that plague was discovered to be spread by the fleas carried on rats.  maker: Unknown maker Place made: Europe made: 1601-1700  Collection: Wellcome Images Library reference no.: Science Museum A115561

Smoking was recommended for both children and adults, and controlled burning of fires in public areas was encouraged, as smoke and heat were thought to help clean the air of miasmas. The inhaling of vinegar soaked sponges, was also deemed helpful. However, without the administration of early antibiotic treatment, which had not yet been invented, the Bubonic Plague quite often very rapidly spread systemically throughout the body in the form of sepsis. When plague spread to the lungs, the result was pneumonic plague, and death was highly probable[34]. Also, in an effort to reduce person-to-person transmission, pest-houses and curfews were authorized. A pest house was a form of quarantine, where an infected individual was locked into a house, along with everyone with whom they had been in contact, symptomatic or not, until they were all well or dead. Curfews were imposed upon as citizens, so that only those having designated authority were sanctioned to walk the streets after curfew. The physician was one of these, and the wearing of the plague physician costume, made him easily identifiable as having this sanction[35].

Also sanctioned, were those who collected the dead, and as per the recommendations of the College of Physicians, it was ordered by the Lord Major and Alderman of London that:

“Burials must take place between sunset and sunrise”…the dead were collected in carts, which patrolled the streets and were buried, as previous epidemics, after sunset. Only during the worst 6 or 7 weeks were dead bodies seen in the streets, or burials undertaken by day.” [Dr.] Nathanial Hodges [confirmed] that “the burying Places would not hold the Dead; they were thrown in to large Pitts dug in waste Grounds, in heaps, thirty to forth together; and it often happened that those who attended the Funerals of their Friends one Evening were carried the next to their own long Home[36].”

[37]V0010604Credit: Wellcome Library, London  “Bring Out Your Dead” A street during the Great Plague in London, 1665, with a death cart and mourners.
Coloured Wood Engravingafter: Edmund Evans Size: image 15.3 x 22.7 cm. Collection: Iconographic Collections Library reference no.: ICV No 10861

[38]V0010611Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Victims of the plague in 1665 being lifted on to death carts. Engraving1747By: Samuel Waleafter: Nathaniel Parr Published:T. Astley,[London?] : 6 June 1747 Size: image 11.9 x 6.9 cm. Collection: Iconographic Collections Library reference no.: ICV No 10869

[39]V0010613Credit: Wellcome Library, London Burying the dead during the plague of 1665. Etching by C. Grignion after S. Wale.
By: Samuel Waleafter: Charles Grignion Collection: Iconographic Collections Library reference no.: ICV No 10871

As it wasn’t precisely known how the plague was spread, the deceased were collected and disposed of as quickly as was possible, given the circumstances created by sheer numbers of the deceased vs. the numbers of people willing to be near enough to dispose of them[40]. Physicians caring for plague victims did what they could in order to protect themselves from contagion, such as through their costume, there were no other documented special precautions or protective clothing for those who collected and buried the dead. It is unlikely that it would have been of much use anyway due to the necessity to dispose of plague victims quickly. Additionally, overcrowding and lack of appropriate hygiene let to the area being overrun with vermin. The incidence of flea bites could occur anywhere and at any time. Moreover, many people were so poor that in order to procure clothing and household items, they often stole from the deceased. Life could often be difficult and unpleasant for the poor, and it is likely that they preferred living with some food and clothing versus the alternative of death. This desire undoubtedly overruled most fears of stealing from plague victims.

As the weather turned colder, the number of plague victims was reduced. This was not felt to have been due to any particular medical interventions, precautionary measures such as quarantines, protective clothing or burning fire, or even the Great Fire of London in 1666. Recent suggestions from scientists are that the rats began to develop a greater resistance to the disease. If they did not die, the fleas would not need to seek out humans as an alternate food source, and fewer human infections would occur. They also suggest that humans began to develop an increased immunity to the disease, as well. Moreover, after 1666, more stringent methods for quarantine of ships entering the country were implemented[41]. This would have helped to control additional or new pestilence arriving to the city from abroad.

Seventeenth century literature from Pepys and DeFoe illustrate that the writing during that period in reference to the plague was more concerned with social life, status, costs of living, and bills of mortality. Physician texts were predominantly concerned with the documenting of their social status, billings, surgeries, bloodletting, autopsies, and experiments with animals, microbiology, herbs, remedies, and the potential causes of airborne illnesses. Few were concerned with capturing or documenting significant detail regarding physician clothing used as protection. As Jacalyn Duffin notes in her book, SARS in Context, “plague literature is often better focused on the psychological experiences of enduring and surviving plague than is plague history, which typically explains responses and changes over time[42].” Similar to Duffin’s research, this present research did not discover anything to suggest that physicians made significant attempts to keep detailed documents for the use of clothing as protection against disease prior to the seventeenth century.

[43]http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/lamperiere,-j.de.-3443-c-28394c23fc http://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/title/la-peste/dust-jacket/sr-4/sortby/1/page-1/

The plague physician costume was created in response to a need for physicians to have further protection from contracting the plague themselves while treating affected patients. However, research shows that only limited information can be found on what appears to be the first form of protective medical clothing. This information comes in the form of artwork such as sketches and watercolors, depicting physicians alone, and also within scenes of England’s Bubonic Plague outbreak of 1655. Written documentation describing the costume was found in what was said to be the first published description of plague protective clothing, titled the Trattato sulla peste. It was written in 1620 by a Rouen, France physician named Jean de Lamperiere (1573 – 1651), who had been the longtime personal physician of Queen Marie de Medici. In his Trattato, he writes “Parisian physicians used an oiled linen robe worn over their clothing, and oiled their temples, mouth, and nostrils before examining a patient. They saturated their gloves with oil so that they could still feel the pulse. Finally, they carried a white staff”[44]. The staff was multi-purpose for the physician. It not only identified him with the status of ‘physician’ and linked him to the plague, but it also helped to keep the sick at bay. Physical contact was limited by using the staff to lift up the bedding or clothing of patients[45]. It is probable that they used the oil to help create an additional barrier upon their clothing, and on the areas of their bodies where they felt that disease or miasmas could enter.

By the plagues of the 1630’s, physicians hired to provide care during the plague insisted on being provided with a robe and head mask. Some physicians also requested wooden clogs, undoubtedly feeling that wood acted as a better barrier from contagion[46].

[47]L0010245Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Plague mask of oil-cloth with bronze beak Photograph18th century Collection: Iconographic Collections

[48]M0000824Credit: Wellcome Library, London Model of a plague doctor.

Later, Dr. Charles de Lorme, personal physician to the French king Louis XIII, took the original concept of protective physician clothing further. He described its protective qualities by making “an analogy between the garment and soldiers’ armour”[49]. He chose to construct it from Moroccan leather, instead of linen, which would have looked to be a more resistant barrier than linen. Using leather made it quite “costly and…decidedly uncomfortable in the hot months of the plague”[50]. The costume consisted of a short sleeved Moroccan leather blouse tucked into breeches, leather boots, gloves and hat, a long leather coat/cloak. The leather was thought to have been waxed to further increase the protective barrier. Eye protection in the shape of goggles called ‘spectacles’ were worn, as was the iconic leather mask shaped like a bird beak that covered the entire face. It was thought that the longer the beak, the further away the diseased air. “The nose [was] half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with only two holes, one on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and to carry along with the air one breathes the impression of the drugs enclosed further along in the beak”[51]. ‘Drugs’ or herbs that were contained inside the mask also would have had the additional benefit of helping to mask the unpleasant odors from rotting corpses.

[52]M0002803Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Plague doctors; various costumes.From: Aesculape Published: January 1932 Collection: General Collections

Later in the 1700’s the protective qualities were documented, by Jean-Jacques Manget that “an eighteenth-century plague doctor wears gown, mask, and gloves to prevent contagion and reduce the stench of infected or dead bodies. The stick provides distance from patients as he works[53]“.

While the ‘bird mask’ became the iconic image of the plague physician, the wearing of facial protection, itself, in situations involving communicable disease or outbreak, did not have a great deal of impact on “medical literature until an internationally known episode in 1911[54]”. (SARS P.74). The incident involved the death of an older French physician, Dr. Mesney, who refused to wear a mask or cover his face while working with pneumonic plague victims in East Asia. He agreed to wear gloves, a cap and overalls, but no mask, and subsequently contracted the disease. Despite medical intervention with anti-plague serum, he succumbed to the illness. After his death, the wearing of protective masks was recommended by the Chinese anti-plague organization. Masks caught on with the public and the appearance of protective masks made out of simple materials such as cotton and gauze were regularly utilized by citizens[55].

Today, the popularity of citizens regularly wearing masks as protection is paralleled by media images captured during the recent SARS and H1N1 Influenza outbreaks. Pictures from all over the world showed groups of people in communal areas such as public transit and shopping malls, wearing protective masks to try and prevent infection.

[56]http://topics.time.com/sars/pictures/ RichRD A. Brooks / AFP / Getty People with and without masks to protect against SARS wait for a tram in the Central district of Hong Kong on May 9, 2003

Today, the Canadian Centre for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledges that “infectious diseases have spread across populations and regions throughout history and it is likely that newly emerging infectious diseases will continue to be identified…[and that] many infectious diseases have animal reservoirs and can infect humans under certain circumstances[57].” Historical examples of this are exemplified by the seventeenth century Bubonic plague, previously discussed, as well as plagues prior to the seventeenth century, such as the Justinian Plague of sixth century Europe or the Black Plague, otherwise known as the ‘Black Death’ of the fourteenth century.

The CDC lists the following factors as being “associated with the spread and emergence of infectious disease [today] as:

  • The changes in human demographics and behavior
  • The impact of new technologies and industries
  • Economic development and changes in land use
  • Increased international travel and commerce
  • Microbial adaptation and change
  • The breakdown of public health measures
  • Sharing an environment with domestic or wild animals or birds[58]

Research indicates that many of these above factors were also prevalent in seventeenth century England. For example, ships from foreign lands regularly entered the area without appropriate quarantine measures in place. There was considerable overcrowding, lack of good public health, and people often shared living space with animals, such as poultry, rats, mice and livestock. These factors were present then, just as they are today, and would have played a part in the spread of the Bubonic Plague. So, while the plague physician costume was synonymous with disease and epidemic in seventeenth century England, in modern day society, whenever we think of disease outbreak, and of individuals working in those conditions, we automatically think of the biohazard suit or the protective clothing of healthcare professionals. There are several companies that manufacture, and therefore, describe today’s biohazard suit[59] [60] [61]. Variations in the suit depending on the disease it is designed to provide protection from, such as some of the better-known modern-day plagues: SARS, MRSA, Influenza, HIV, and Ebola Virus. As there is much information on each of these epidemics, this paper will discuss one of the more recent, well-known plagues, SARS, as well as one of the more common ones, MRSA.

SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and is a form of human influenza. It is caused by the SARS Coronavirus and characteristically leads to a form of pneumonia that is potentially fatal. Symptoms of SARS usually begin like those of the common cold, and over time become more similar to those of a flu. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue, headaches, fever, rash, mental confusion, decreased appetite, body aches, muscle pain/soreness, diarrhea, and chills. Often, between three and seven days after exposure, infection can spread to the lungs, and respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, decreased oxygen levels, and pneumonia can occur[62].

As SARS is a form of influenza, it is thus an airborne virus that is spread by breathing in droplets of water that still remain in the air following sneezing or coughing by those who are infected. Also, the touching of contaminated surfaces can spread the virus, brought about, for example, by an infected individual coughing into their own hand and immediately touching a door knob. While these modes of transmission have proven to be true, some experts believe that SARS may also still be spread by other modes of transmission that are not yet known to us[63].

MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, which is a form of bacteria. Many healthy people carry the staphylococcus bacteria on their skin, and never know it or ever become infected. MRSA is spread by contact, such as being touched by someone who carries the bacteria on their skin or by touching an MRSA contaminated object. MRSA infection typically affects the skin. The CDC notes that the more severe or potentially life-threatening MRSA infections are most likely to occur among patients in healthcare settings, particularly the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. When the skin becomes infected, it is more likely to occur on areas of the body that are covered by hair or that have experienced a form of skin trauma. MRSA infection can cause surgical site infections, blood infections or pneumonia – all of which can be fatal. The signs and symptoms of MRSA vary depending on the type and stage of infection. However, most MRSA infections are skin related and take the form of red, painful, swollen pustules or pus-filled boils that start out looking similar to a spider bite[64].

While many forms of bacteria can be treated relatively easily with antibiotics, the MRSA bacteria has adapted to become resistant to a variety of antibiotics such as methicillin, and the more commonly known antibiotics such oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. While some antibiotics will still work, as MRSA is constantly adapting for antibiotic resistance, researchers are continually working, in tandem, to develop newer, effective antibiotics[65].

Over the centuries, it has been proven that overall hygiene, along with adequate and appropriate hand hygiene is extremely important in helping to reduce the spread of germs and infection. So, along with hygiene, when dealing with contagion, today’s healthcare professionals, employ the use of protective clothing, not unlike their seventeenth century counterparts. Protective clothing, such as the biohazard suit and disposable, protective clothing, work to help protect them from skin and airborne exposures as well as contamination from other clothing.

In the event of a contagion caused from a biological weapon, workers could be exposed to anything from “bacteria, viruses, or toxins of fine airborne particles” of unknown origin[66]. Biohazard suits would need to provide the best possible overall protection against anything that could be inhaled, absorbed, penetrated or ingested[67]. Therefore, these suits would have the most expensive, scientifically advanced fabrics, seam closures, and specialized air filtration systems. Very detailed, specific decontamination procedures would be necessary upon removal of the protective costume.  However, unlike the seventeenth century, protective clothing is meant to protect not only the health care professional, but also the patient from potential exposures. Through the advances of science, the type of protective clothing worn today will vary, depending upon the type of outbreak involved and its potential for chemical, physical, dermal or airborne hazards[68].

 

 

[69]http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1680&bih=955&q=biohazard+suit&oq=bioha&gs_l=img.1.5.0l10.2099.2605.0.4328.5.4.0.1.1.0.157.268.3j1.4.0…0.0…1ac.1.7.img.r6n8zuJAtOY#imgrc=jRdWCURNqoU01M%3A%3BHZZtKqvoRW-fOM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fpostalmuseum.si.edu%252Finspectors%252Fimages%252Fo43lg.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fpostalmuseum.si.edu%252Finspectors%252Fa6p2.html%3B400%3B483

As well, the environmental conditions under which the health professional will be working, are taken into consideration when choosing the appropriate protective gear. It needs to be made from lightweight fabric in order to make working conditions as comfortable as possible.

[70]http://approvedgasmasks.com/suit-micromax.htm

 

[71]http://www.gipdrs.com/main-important-crime-scene-clean-up/

According to the CDC, along with hand hygiene, in dealing with contagion such as SARS and MRSA, specifics of the protective clothing employed by healthcare professionals are:

Facial protection: Facial protection, such as a disposable medical mask or particulate respirator should be worn, and when using a particulate respirator, the type would be selected based on the hazard involved and its determined airborne concentration. The wearing of facial protection, protects the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth during activities that are likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood, bodily fluids, secretions, or excretions.

Eye Protection: When providing close contact care of a patient with respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing, sprays of bodily fluids could potentially occur and eye protection should be used such as goggles or a face shield. This will help protect the eyes (conjunctiva).

Gloves: Normally, disposable latex or latex-free gloves are worn whenever there is to be anticipated contact with blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, mucous membranes, potentially infected skin, or non-intact skin. Gloves are always disposed of after one use and should always be changed in “between tasks or procedures on the same patient once they have had any contact with potentially infectious material” and always changed between different patients.

Gowns, Head Caps and Booties: These items are worn by a health care worker to provide a protective barrier that will help prevent contamination of their body and clothing during events that could potentially induce sprays or splashes of secretions, excretions, blood or bodily fluids. It also functions to protect the patient from any potential transmission of bacteria or infection from the health care worker[72]. These items are normally made from a man-made material called poly-propylene, which is a tough, flexible, chemically-made, non-woven fabric that is lighter and more breathable than traditional materials.

The material polypropylene “can be manipulated to take on many forms, from plastic food containers, to car parts, medical mesh sutures and even fabric…[it] is widely used in the manufacture of disposable surgical clothing due to its resistance to bacteria and fluids, forming a protective barrier between physicians and patients[73]. Studies have shown that polypropylene fabric has the lowest blood strike-through property and MRSA penetration resistance than other protective fabrics that have been used in health centres and operating rooms[74]. So, despite its light and almost ‘delicate’ appearance, it provides reliable protection from exposure, making polypropylene is the preferred material of choice for protective clothing. Once polypropylene gowns are used or soiled, they are placed in a garbage receptacle. If the protective clothing is constructed of a reusable fabric, it is cleaned according to its specific decontamination criteria, as appropriate. Fabric used for standard facial masks, gowns, booties and head coverings “must have performance properties suitable for the situation of outbreak involved; [and these properties could include] tensile strength, puncture resistance, seam breaking strength, abrasion resistance. Proper decontamination of protective equipment and clothing helps ensure that any particles that may have settled on the outside of protective equipment are removed before taking off gear[75].” Proper decontamination works to ensure that reusable equipment is not used for the care of another patient until it has been appropriately cleaned and reprocessed. It also ensures that single-use items are properly discarded[76].

[77]Google Images: http://www.brooksidepress.org/Products/Military_OBGYN/Procedures/OperatingRoomConventions.htm

[78]Google Images: http://www.masterfile.com/stock-photography/image/700-01234853/Doctors%20Performing%20Surgery

By today’s standards, and those of the CDC, disposal methods of the deceased are stricter and more sterile than they were in the seventeenth century. This has come about as a result of the reporting of transmission of lethal infectious disease, associated with mortuary care. So while bodies of plague victims were piled high onto carts and tossed into plague pits, the bodies of today’s individuals that have been exposed to contagion are disposed of by taking the same precautions that healthcare professionals would employ when interacting with the living body. Proper hand hygiene would be performed and use of gloves, gowns, facial protection, and booties would be worn while handling the corpse. Funeral and burial arrangements would be at the discretion of the family/next of kin. However, if serious contagion is involved, caskets can be sealed to eliminate exposure[79].

From research conducted through historic and modern texts, historic sketches, modern photographs and academic literature, today’s biohazard suit and health care professional’s protective clothing are really nothing more than adaptations of the seventeenth century plague physician costume. These adaptations have occurred in tandem with our steadily increasing knowledge of science and disease. Like the seventeenth century, a biohazard costume of today can really only ever be as good as the information currently existing for which it was created, such as our knowledge of science, biology and the epidemic.

The plague physician costume had originally been devised in an attempt to provide physicians with protection from the plague while working in the diseased environment. Given the materials they had to work with, paired with their rudimentary knowledge of disease, biology and medicine of the time, they did the best they could with the construction of this costume in order to reduce their potential for direct contact with contagion and contagious disease. However, the suit, while providing some protection, obviously did not and could not provide complete protection against plague exposure. This was because they did not completely understand the cause and modes of plague transmission.

Over the centuries, as our knowledge of science and biology grew, we learned more about disease, transmission and how to create man-made fabrics that would be resistant to liquids, be disposable and well-sealed. The costumes were worn for the same reasons as in the seventeenth century: people realized that in order to attempt to protect themselves from diseases of which not everything was immediately known, they must take any and every precaution necessary. This would include the construction of protective garments that would cover all parts of their body, allow for purified air, and enable their physical movements to be as unrestricted as possible. This enabled them to move about and conduct their work in infectious surroundings, while reducing the potential for exposure and infection.

However, today we are more mindful when we wear protective clothing, in addition to having improved our quarantine and decontamination processes, unlike in the seventeenth century. Today’s protective clothing is made by large chemical companies such as DuPont. Clothing is mass produced and subject to rigorous testing and documentation, instead of being made by a local tailor at the bequest of the town physician. The majority of health care professionals today have access to this clothing, unlike medical professionals of the seventeenth century.

We know more about diseases now than we did then, but this is not because we have better control over them, but because we have more years of experience from which to draw, as well as improved scientific experimentation and documentation.

Have life and the living conditions of humanity truly changed since the seventeenth century? Yes and no. We have undoubtedly made extraordinary advances in the sciences: genetics, biology, pharmacology, physics, and astronomy, to name a few. We have better access to the receipt and dissemination of information through larger archives, the World Wide Web, telephones, and computers. Information about disease, or even a simple sneeze, can be shared instantly with any corner of the world. This immediate sharing of information about a contagion provides more people with the most up-to-date information quickly in order to help them protect themselves. However, much like the seventeenth century, we still have a noticeable division between the economic and social classes, with lower income individuals having less access to education, proper nutrition and healthcare. Our cities continue to be overcrowded and the world is still exposed to the occurrences of war, famine, and plague. For example, as J. H. Plumb said in 1960, while the plague seemed to be such a remote event, “it is an experience the like of which can still occur” reminding us that the “… influenza epidemic of 1919 killed far more people[80].” Looking at our new, modern world from this perspective, it can be said that sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. For every disease our scientific advancements either cure or control, a new disease or contagion is born – either from genetic mutation, lack of hygiene in poverty-stricken areas, or man-made biological warfare. Thus, as the seventeenth century plague physician costume adapted and evolved into today’s modern-day biohazard suit, and as our world continues the cyclical process of change and adaptation, today’s biohazard suit must, in turn, continue to adapt as new diseases and environmental hazards continue to evolve.

Moreover, newer, updated versions of the biohazard costume and the materials from which it is constructed, will continue to be necessary. So, as our understanding of the environment, disease and science evolves, protective costume will also be continually changing and evolving, while paradoxically, still remaining essentially the same. This is supported by the fact that the more humans learn over time about contagious disease, building on their rudimentary beliefs, trial and error and as knowledge of biology and the sciences advance, continued ‘improvements’ are made to the costume based upon current knowledge and materials available. However, when one is continually learning about diseases, and diseases are continually mutating and being created, it must be wondered if we will always be just one small step behind.

[1] L0014678 Credit: Wellcome Library, London Protective Amulets (Collection: Asian Collection Library reference no.: Or Ms A27 http://wellcomeimages.org)

[2] Pace, Brian P. Ed. JAMA 100 Years Ago – The Hygiene of Clothing (JAMA: 279, no. 20, 1998): 1608

[3] Gjerdingen, Dwenda K., MD; Deborah E. Simpson, PhD; Sandra L. Titus, PhD.   Patients’ and Physician’s Attitudes Regarding the Physician’s Professional Appearance. (Archives of Internal Medicine – Vol 147, July 1987) 1209 -1212

[4] Kazory, Amir. Physicians, Their Appearance, and the White Coat, (The American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 121, No.9 September 2008) pages 825 – 828

[5] Gjerdingen, Dwenda K., MD; Deborah E. Simpson, PhD; Sandra L. Titus, PhD.   Patients’ and Physician’s Attitudes Regarding the Physician’s Professional Appearance. (Archives of Internal Medicine – Vol 147, July 1987) 1209 -1212

[6] Kazory, Amir. Physicians, Their Appearance, and the White Coat, (The American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 121, No.9 September 2008) pages 825 – 828

[7] Rehman, Shakaib U., MD, Paul J. Nietert, PhD, Dennis W. Cope, MD, Anne Osborne Kilpatrick, DPA. What to Wear Today? Effect of Doctor’s Attire on the Trust and Confidence of Patients. (The American Journal of Medicine 2005 118) 1279 – 1280

[8] Dancer. S.J. Pants, Policies and Paranoia. (Journal of Hospital Infection 74, 2010) 10 – 15

[9] Munoz-Price, L. Silva, Kristopher L. Arheart, John P. Mills, Timothy Cleary, Dennise DePascale, Adriana Jiminez, Yovanit Fajardo-Aquino, Gabriel Coro, David J. Birnbach, David A. Lubarsky. Associations between bacterial contamination of health care workers’ hands and contamination of white coats and scrubs. (American Journal of Infection Control, xxx 2012) e1 – e4

[10] Parthasarathi, V. and G. Thilagavathi. A Review on Antiviral and Antibacterial Surgical Gown and Drapes. (Indian Journal of Fundamental and Applied Life Sciences. Vol. 1, (2) April – June 2011) 215 – 218

[11] Gjerdingen, Dwenda K., MD; Deborah E. Simpson, PhD; Sandra L. Titus, PhD.   Patients’ and Physician’s Attitudes Regarding the Physician’s Professional Appearance. (Archives of Internal Medicine – Vol 147, July 1987) 1209 -1212

[12] Rehman, Shakaib U., MD, Paul J. Nietert, PhD, Dennis W. Cope, MD, Anne Osborne Kilpatrick, DPA. What to Wear Today? Effect of Doctor’s Attire on the Trust and Confidence of Patients. (The American Journal of Medicine 2005 118) 1279 – 1280

[13] Pepys, Samuel. The Diary of Samuel Pepys, M.A., F.R.S, Volume VI. (Norwood, Mass., USA: MacMillan and Co. Reprinted: Norwood Press/J.S. Cushing & Co. – Berwick & Smith Co. 1895

[14] DeFoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year. 1722. (Ed. Burgess, Anthony and Christopher Bristow. Middlesex, England, UK: Penguin Books Ltd., 1966).

[15] Tortora, Phyllis, and Keith Eubank. Survey of Historic Costume, 2nd Ed. (New York: Fairchild Publications, 1994) 189 – 190

[16]londonhttps://pinterest.com/pin/137570963590088874/ Men’s Suit of Clothing from 1670, (as seen at the Victoria & Albert Museum)

[17] Jeaffreson, John Cordy. A Book About Doctors. (New York: Rudd & Carleton, 1861). 12

[18]Jeaffreson, John Cordy. A Book About Doctors. (New York: Rudd & Carleton, 1861). 12

[19] http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/education/plague.pdf (UK Government National Archives: 2008)

[20] Moote, A. Lloyd & Dorothy C. Moote. The Great Plague. (Baltimore, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004). 48,70, 115 – 116

[21] Sloan, A.W. Medical and Social Aspects of the Great Plague of London in 1665. (SAMJ – South African Medical Journal 42, 1973) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7543.php 270

[22] Sebbane, Florent, Nadine Lemaitre, Daniel E. Sturdevant, Roberto Rebeil, Kimmo Virtaneva, Stephen F. Porcella and B. Joseph Hinnebusch. Adaptive response of Yersinia pestis to extracellular effectors of innate immunity during bubonic plague. ((PNAS) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, August 1, 2006: Vol 103 no.31) 11766

[23] Moote, A. Lloyd & Dorothy C. Moote. The Great Plague. (Baltimore, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press), 2004. 62

[24] Sloan, A.W. Medical and Social Aspects of the Great Plague of London in 1665. SAMJ – South African Medical Journal 42, 1973) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7543.php 270

[25] Moote, A. Lloyd & Dorothy C. Moote. The Great Plague. (Baltimore, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press), 2004. 54 – 55

[26] Sloan, A.W. Medical and Social Aspects of the Great Plague of London in 1665. SAMJ – South African Medical Journal 42, 1973) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7543.php 271

[27] Sloan, A.W. Medical and Social Aspects of the Great Plague of London in 1665. SAMJ – South African Medical Journal 42, 1973) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7543.php 271

[28] L0002324 Credit: Wellcome Library, London, Library reference no.: Slide number 1493 The King’s medicine for the plague. A recipe for the prevention of plague. http://wellcomeimages.org

[29] L0002323EA Credit: Wellcome Library, London, Library reference no.: Slide number 1494, The King’s medicine for the plague http://wellcomeimages.org

[30] Moote, A. Lloyd & Dorothy C. Moote. The Great Plague. (Baltimore, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004). 106

[31] Moote, A. Lloyd & Dorothy C. Moote. The Great Plague. (Baltimore, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004). 141

[32]L0058229 Credit Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images, Library reference no.: Science Museum A629411 Fumigating torches http://wellcomeimages.org

[33] L0057481Credit Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images, Library reference no.: Science Museum A115561, Fumigating torch, http://wellcomeimages.org

[34] Sebbane, Florent, Nadine Lemaitre, Daniel E. Sturdevant, Roberto Rebeil, Kimmo Virtaneva, Stephen F. Porcella and B. Joseph Hinnebusch. Adaptive response of Yersinia pestis to extracellular effectors of innate immunity during bubonic plague. ((PNAS) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, August 1, 2006: Vol 103 no.31) 11766

[35] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 71

[36] Sloan, A.W. Medical and Social Aspects of the Great Plague of London in 1665. (SAMJ – South African Medical Journal 42, 270) (1973) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7543.php

[37] V0010604 Credit: Wellcome Library, London, Library reference no.: ICV No 10861, “Bring Out Your Dead” A street during the Great Plague in London, 1665, with a death cart and mourners http://wellcomeimages.org

[38] V0010611 Credit: Wellcome Library, London, Library reference no.: ICV No 10869, Victims of the plague in 1665 being lifted on to death carts, http://wellcomeimages.org

[39] V0010613 Credit: Wellcome Library, London, Library reference no.: ICV No 10871, Burying the dead during the plague of 1665. Etching by C. Grignion after S. Wale. http://wellcomeimages.org

[40] Nicholson, Watson. The Historical Sources of DeFoe’s Journal of the Plague Year. (Massachusetts, USA: The Stratford Co. Publishers, 1919). 50

[41] http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/education/plague (UK Government National Archives: 2008)

[42] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 70-71

[43] http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/lamperiere,-j.de.-3443-c-28394c23fc http://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/title/la-peste/dust-jacket/sr-4/sortby/1/page-1/

[44] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 63-70

[45] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 63-70

[46] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 63-70

[47] L0010245 Credit: Wellcome Library, London, Collection: Iconographic Collections, Plague mask of oil-cloth with bronze beak, http://wellcomeimages.org

[48] M0000824Credit: Wellcome Library, London, Collection: Wellcome Images, Model of a plague doctor, http://wellcomeimages.org

[49] Tibayrenc, Michel, ed. The Encyclopedia of Infectious Diseases. (Hoboken New Jersey: Wiley-Liss/a John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Publication, 2007). 680

[50] Tibayrenc, Michel, ed. The Encyclopedia of Infectious Diseases. (Hoboken New Jersey: Wiley-Liss/a John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Publication, 2007). 680

[51] Tibayrenc, Michel, ed. The Encyclopedia of Infectious Diseases. (Hoboken New Jersey: Wiley-Liss/a John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Publication, 2007). 680

[52]M0002803 Credit: Wellcome Library, London Plague doctors; various costumes. From: Aesculape Published: January 1932 Collection: General Collections http://wellcomeimages.org

[53] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 15

[54] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 74

[55] Duffin, Jacalyn and Arthur Sweetman, ed. SARS in Context: Memory, History, Policy. (Montreal: The School of Policy Studies, McGill-Queens University Press, 2006). 74

[56] http://topics.time.com/sars/pictures/ RichRD A. Brooks / AFP / Getty People with and without masks to protect against SARS wait for a tram in the Central district of Hong Kong on May 9, 2003

[57] WHO Interim Guidelines: http://www.emro.who.int/stb/media/pdf/WHO99-269.pdf

[58] WHO Interim Guidelines: http://www.emro.who.int/stb/media/pdf/WHO99-269.pdf

[59] Global Sources http://www.globalsources.com/manufacturers/Biohazard-Suit.html

[60] DuPont http://www.dupont.com/products-and-services/personal-protective-equipment/chemical-protective-garments/uses-and-applications/biological-hazard-protection.html

[61] 99Solutions http://jamesstern.girlshopes.com/biohazardsuit/

[62] Nordqvist, Christopher. What is SARS? What Are The Symptoms of SARS? (Medical News Today. April 22 2004) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7543.php;

[63] WHO Interim Guidelines: http://www.emro.who.int/stb/media/pdf/WHO99-269.pdf

[64] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/definition/index.html & http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/symptoms/index.html

[65] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/treatment/index.html

[66] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Recommendations for the Selection and Use of Respirators and Protective Clothing for Protection Against Biological Agents” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-132/

[67] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Recommendations for the Selection and Use of Respirators and Protective Clothing for Protection Against Biological Agents” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-132/

[68]  Granzow JW, Smith JW, Nichols RL, Waterman RS, Muzik AC. Evaluation of the protective value of hospital gowns against blood strike-through and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus penetration. (Am J Infect Control. Apr; 26(2):1998) 85

[69]http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1680&bih=955&q=biohazard+suit&oq=bioha&gs_l=img.1.5.0l10.2099.2605.0.4328.5.4.0.1.1.0.157.268.3j1.4.0…0.0…1ac.1.7.img.r6n8zuJAtOY#imgrc=jRdWCURNqoU01M%3A%3BHZZtKqvoRW-fOM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fpostalmuseum.si.edu%252Finspectors%252Fimages%252Fo43lg.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fpostalmuseum.si.edu%252Finspectors%252Fa6p2.html%3B400%3B483

[70] http://approvedgasmasks.com/suit-micromax.htm

[71] http://www.gipdrs.com/main-important-crime-scene-clean-up/

[72] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/prevent/healthcare.html

[73] Maier, Clive; Calafut, Teresa. Polypropylene: the definitive user’s guide and databook. (Norwich, NY: Plastics Design Library, a Division of William Andrew Inc. 1998) 14.

[74] Granzow JW, Smith JW, Nichols RL, Waterman RS, Muzik AC. Evaluation of the protective value of hospital gowns against blood strike-through and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus penetration. (Am J Infect Control. Apr; 26(2):1998) 85

[75] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Recommendations for the Selection and Use of Respirators and Protective Clothing for Protection Against Biological Agents” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-132/

[76] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Recommendations for the Selection and Use of Respirators and Protective Clothing for Protection Against Biological Agents” http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-132/

[77] Google Images: http://www.brooksidepress.org/Products/Military_OBGYN/Procedures/OperatingRoomConventions.htm

[78] Google Images: http://www.masterfile.com/stock-photography/image/700-01234853/Doctors%20Performing%20Surgery

[79] CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/noish/topics p 31

[80] Malloch, Archibald. Men and Books: Other Things – and Pomander Sticks. Canadian Medical Association Journal 1925 August; 15(8) 1923, p. 852-853

Perfecting Human Touch

Perhaps I’m a bit odd, (OK, I’m sure I’m odd!) but when I sit and am actually still for a few minutes, if I breathe and let it, I can either totally still my mind or just let it run amok.  If I let it go, my mind can move at such a rapid pace that it can randomly take me anywhere – the past, the present, the future, and allow me to experience memories, or a variety of imaginary situations with a plethora of plot twists; all in a matter of minutes or even mere seconds.

Today, while sitting and sipping my morning coffee, my mind randomly took me back to Newfoundland, about 25 years ago – to the memory of an Iyengar yoga class I used to attend when I lived in downtown St. John’s.  My mind relived the deep peacefulness of this particular yoga class, taught by ‘BW’.  The class was popular and always full; with men and women of all ages and abilities – from those who looked like seasoned yogis to those who were mobility challenged.  As every body is built differently, BW had a very specific talent to be able to take any pose and modify it to perfectly suit each person in her class.  And while I floated in a light, zen-like state, I could never fully grasp how she somehow managed to get to every person in the room and gently help shape their body or modify the pose so that it worked for them and they were able to feel it’s maximum benefits.  It was almost surreal and, dare I say, magical.

I feel that part of how she accomplished this was from having mastered the art of the perfect human touch.  I can recall pushing myself into what I found to be a difficult pose and suddenly, she would be right there next to me, quietly asking permission to help/touch me.  And once her hands touched me – gently directing my back downwards or my hips upwards, my body would instantly relax.  It was like every straining muscle just ‘sank’ into the pose and every care in the world simply melted away.

yoga

The perfection of her touch was such calm simplicity.  It was slightly firm, yet light.  Warm and gentle.  It radiated with positive intent, kindness and a genuine care for the well-being of others.  Her touch was to guide you into a healthy and comfortable place.  It was right and perfect and was never misconstrued as uncomfortable or inappropriate.  I appreciated feeling the positive energy of another person.

Fast forward back to 25 years later, now, in the present.  And after all that, as I continue to sip my coffee, I think about how in my late 20’s I became a hugger.  Everyone who knows me, knows I give hugs. I give hugs hello, I give hugs goodbye.  I give hugs of thanks, hugs of support, and hugs of comfort.  I’m not sure I have accomplished the perfect human touch, but I give all my hugs with an open heart and positive energy.  I hope that anyone I’ve every hugged has felt that.

hug

 

Bucket List Part 3: Taste Absinthe

OK, again, not a very lofty bucket list item – but (again) not many of my bucket list items, are.  So – why absinthe?  Well, I just couldn’t help it… over the years, the literary & arts lover in me had conjured up romanticized images in my mind of sitting around an old Sherlock Holmes-esque English parlor having marvelous, deeply intellectual conversations with fascinating people about the arts, philosophy & religion –  all while partaking in the ritualistic sipping of a glass of absinthe, involving an intricate-looking beverage contraption… fancy, huh?

absinthe-decanter-goblets_1ac99f46

 

So, as I’m always on the lookout, opportunity finally knocked and I got my chance!  A restaurant had opened up in Halifax, advertising an ‘old-timey’ feel and serving absinthe, so last year while my son was at a nearby event, my companion & I dropped in so that I could give it a try. 

What I was served wasn’t entirely what I had expected – I had expected the elaborate font from which water would drip onto a sugar cube above my absinthe (as pictured above).  However, what I received was still quite lovely – a small, fancy glass of vibrant green absinthe, a small decanter of iced water, a sugar cube and a small silver, perforated spoon.  I was directed to place the spoon over the glass of absinthe, place the sugar cube onto the perforated spoon, and slowly pour the iced water over the sugar cube to drain down into the absinthe.  You could add less or more water, to taste.  The icy sugar-water turned the vibrant green of the absinthe to more of a milky green – and it turned out that this was actually the traditional way to drink absinthe!  (So, I didn’t feel gipped on my experience!)

absinthe

Absinthe was quite close to what I expected it to be – it had a primary taste of licorice (due to, I would guess, the anise & fennel), with a hint of ‘herbal’ taste, behind the licorice.  I was told that absinthe also contains wormwood – which has a bitter taste.  Well, somehow, together, it all just – worked, as I enjoyed the slight contrast of the bitter wormwood to the licorice/herbal taste.  And, it was quite potent!  One glass left me feeling pleasantly warm & relaxed.  However, as it was so potent and rich (& me being a bit of a lightweight!) I had but the one glass! 

Over my glass of absinthe, my companion and I did not discuss philosophy, the arts or religion (more likely the logistics of  weekly schedules or grocery lists!) and, sadly, I did not devise any earth-shattering ideas for world betterment, nor did it magically make me a literary genius.  However, in the end, the experience was highly enjoyable, (I did not cut off an ear, much to the relief of my partner!) and found that I’d certainly be willing to drink absinthe again, should I ever have the chance!

 

Bucket List Part 2: Carpe Ocasionem…The Time I Rode a Mechanical Bull

Right off the bat, I’ll just lay it all out there. I’m not much of a Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) type gal.

I wish I was, because who doesn’t love a Ms. Positivity-Go-Getter with boundless energy?!  But sadly, I’m not sure it’s in my nature.  While I love life and am grateful for every minute of it that I have, I don’t spring out of bed each morning, smiling, feeling energized and ready to greet the day like the woman in the Gain Laundry Detergent commercial.  I swear, (and you’d think I’d remember!) every morning the alarm clock wakes me up at an ungodly hour with the same visceral jolt – leaving me feeling like my soul hasn’t quite yet re-entered my body.  I struggle to fully awaken, drag myself from the warm bed and work to find my land legs.  I’m stiff, wobbly and groggy – and in immediate need of a hot shower and a coffee.  Probably because 5 days a week, like many others, I need to go to work – early and on time.  And my work does not involve bringing about world peace, saving lives, solving world hunger or curing cancer.  Basically, at my age, it came down to a choice: if I choose to have certain things in life, I need to be able to pay for them.  Work provides me with benefits that any parent hopes to have, such as paid vacation, a pension plan, medical and dental.  It provides me with enough money to support my family so that we can live in a decent house, have heat, water, food, a pet, and my son can play sports.  However, it also takes up the bulk of my waking day.  Taking me away from the many things in my life that give me joy down to my soul: my child, my cat, leisurely shopping, coffees or chats with friends, yoga, hours of reading, taking random fun courses, furthering my education, wandering aimlessly around the city, taking photos, writing…and so on.

Of course I can still do all these things – just not leisurely, on a whim, or whenever I want.   Things I want to do for me must be scheduled; squashed in, and timed to fit in amongst all the “need to’s & have to’s”.  Because like most working moms (if you aren’t lucky enough to have a housekeeper!), once the paid work day ends, the unpaid work day begins: homework, practices, lessons, groceries, supper, dishes, laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and anything else that may need doing.  And not that I mind, because I love being a mom (best job in the world!) and having a home, it’s just that sometimes, at the end of the day, I’m just so worn out that all I can do is fall into bed, hopefully watch a show and then fall asleep.  Too tired to do yoga, too tired to read, too tired to call a friend and catch up.  Just ready for sleep and ready to repeat it all again the next day.

I am, my friends, now a member of what I’ve heard called, The Sandwich Generation– a new phase of life where you have so many things competing for and requiring your immediate attention: children, aging parents, deadlines, paid work, work in the home, etc… and unless you are one of those Type A personalities who have so much energy that they can easily do it all (of whom I’m totally in awe of, by the way!), somewhere along the line, you end up neglecting yourself – putting yourself and your needs, last.  So, (while regularly fantasizing about retirement) and through my personal reflections of measuring a life well-lived via a bucket list, I feel I’ve had to morph into more of a Capere Ocasionem (Seize the Opportunity) kind of gal.

I do this by keeping a running list of all the things I want to do, see, have, experience and accomplish.  I keep it with me all the time.  I read it once a day.  Sometimes, I add to it.  And each day, if ever the opportunity presents itself of my getting to cross an item off the list, I go for it.  It’s the main way I manage to fit things in and help me feel like I’m accomplishing some little things just for myself.  Whatever works, right?

This brings me to the “Ride a Mechanical Bull” ilorins-phone-018tem on my bucket list.  Something I’d always wanted to do, but for some reason the opportunity never presented itself.  Like, really?  How many working moms have the time to seek out and plan to ride a mechanical bull?  None I know.  So it stayed on my list.  Waiting for the opportunity…

And finally it came.  A couple of years ago, my son was invited to a birthday party at a place called Hatfield Farms.  We had never been there before, and he was a bit shy at the time, so my partner and I planned to stay with him.  The farm party had many fun activities: a wagon ride, BBQ, bouncy castle, mini golf, gladiator fights, a petting zoo, a mechanical bull…wait.  Mechanical Bull!?!  No way!  The heavens opened, the angels sang and capere ocasionem!  Because, yes.  Lo and behold in one area of the compound – there it was – a mechanical bull.  I didn’t know where or when I’d ever have this opportunity again, so children’s birthday party or not, I decided then and there, oh yeah… this was happening!  So, while the children were busy with games, other rides, etc… I grabbed the bull by the horns (or so to speak!), and rode the bull.

It wasn’t exactly like I thought it would be.  For some reason, after all these years, in my mind, I assumed I’d be some sort of mechanical-bull-riding-prodigy.  However, it was harder than I thought – kind of like a full body workout in a few short minutes.  My right hand was white-knuckled to the saddle.  My head (and my whole body) were whipped violently this way and that.  But to my credit (while I didn’t risk the maximum setting) I held on and managed to stay on!  I was a bit nauseous when I finally got off, my butt felt bruised and my thighs hurt from gripping the sides of the bull to keep my balance, but hell yeah, I DID IT!

It’s always a moment of joy, a small victory and extremely cathartic for me when I get to cross an item off my bucket list!  And while I no longer have a burning desire to ride a mechanical bull, I’d probably do it again if the opportunity ever presented itself!  Capere Ocasionem!  Yee haw, y’all!

The Bucket List

Life is short.  Sure everyone knows this, but how many people really know this? How short life can be really didn’t fully hit home for me until a few years after I lost someone in my life whe…

Source: The Bucket List