Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 26 >> Sunstroke to Switzerland >> Sweating Sickness

Sweating Sickness

disease, hours and epidemic

SWEATING SICKNESS, a febrile epi demic disease of extraordinary malignity which prevailed in Europe, particularly in England, at different periods toward the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th. It ap pears to have spared no age nor condition, but is said to have attacked more especially persons in high health, of middle age and of the better class. Its attack was very sudden, producing a sensation of intense heat in some particular part, which heat afterward overspread the whole body, and was followed by profuse sweating, attended with insatiable thirst, restlessness, headache, delirium, nausea, an irresistible pro pensity to sleep and great prostration of strength. The patient was frequently carried off in one, two or three hours from the erup tion of the sweat. It seems to have first ap peared in the army of the Earl of Richmond upon his landing at Milford Haven in 1485, and soon spread to London. This body of troops had been much crowded in transport vessels, and was described by Philip de Comines as the most wretched that he had ever beheld, col lected probably from jails and hospitals, and buried in filth. It broke out in England four

times after this, in 1506, 1517, 1528 and 1551. The process eventually adopted for its cure was to promote perspiration and carefully avoid ex posure to cold. The violence of the attack generally subsided in 15 hours. The disease is endemic in parts of Picardy, France, and in Italy, being known in the latter country as mili ary fever. In 1906 there was an epidemic in France. It appears to be allied to influenza. Compare the epidemic of the latter disease in the armies operating in Picardy in 1918, whence it spread throughout the world. Consult Hecker, J. F. K., (Epidemics of the Middle Ages' (London 1859) and Osier, W., (Modern Medicine' (Philadelphia 1914).