Rev Esp Quimioter 2020; 33(2): 87-93

John Donne, Spanish Doctors and the epidemic typhus: fleas or lice?   



We describe the infections that appeared in the life and work of John Donne (1572-1631), the English metaphysical poet, mainly the exanthematic typhus that suffered and gave arise to his work Devotions upon emergent occasions, and several steps in my sickness. We discuss the vector of transmission of this disease, in comparison of other infections in that period, that Donne´s scholars have related to the flea without mentioning the body louse, the true vector of the exanthematic typhus. Likewise, we mention the exanthematic typhus´s symptoms in his Devotions in comparison with the Luis de Toro´s or Alfonso López de Corella´s works, Spanish doctors in those times and the first doctors in write books about the disease, and the singular treatment of pigeon carcasses on the soles of the feet in English Doctors but not in Spanish Doctors.

Rev Esp Quimioter 2020; 33(2): 87-93 [Full-text PDF]