Jewish doctors were able to stop the spread of a typhus outbreak in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust, according to a new report by the scientific journal Live Science.
Typhus initially broke out in the ghetto in 1941 and was expected to spread rapidly through the inhabitants, but rather it died out quite quickly using strict containment measures carried out by the Jewish community of the ghetto.
The study, performed by researchers from Israel, Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Berlin, found that doctors had enforced social distancing, quarantine, and given lectures to educate the captives of the ghetto.Typhus symptoms in common with the pandemic plaguing the world today: the novel coronavirus. It gives those ill a high fever, chills, coughing and severe muscle pain. Approximately 40% of cases which are left untreated prove to be fatal.Approximately 120,000 people in the ghetto caught typhus, of which 30,000 died directly from it, according to Medical Xpress.
Models in the new study show that the epidemic, which broke out mid-year, should have reached its peak in the ideal conditions of the fall and winter months, but did not do so – likely due to “anti-epidemic activities in the ghetto,” according to Live Science, citing researchers of the study.
The ghetto was the perfect location for an epidemic to spread, as it was massively overcrowded with approximately 400,000 Jews, as well as leaving the inhabitants to starve and the exposure to the elements. All Jewish residents of Warsaw and another several thousand from throughout Germany were relocated to the ghetto and sealed off within it with very few hygeinic supplies to take care of themselves. Dozens of thousands of Jews died due to the conditions, not to mention those who were later sent to concentration camps and death camps.
But the illness did not spread at the speed with which it was expected to do so. The lead author of the study was Prof. Lewi Stone of Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Melbourne Technical College in Australia. He claimed that “the Warsaw ghetto had many experienced doctors as inmates.
“Jewish doctors in the ghetto, it seems, enforced social distancing and put those infected in quarantine: much like today. However, it was practically much more difficult to do so in the extremely overcrowded ghetto.