If you run a feudal society, you may expect feudal problems
It was with some astonishment I read the latest Scientific American piece, “Medieval” Diseases Flare as Unsanitary Living Conditions Proliferate“, which reviews the government’s response to the recent outbreaks of typhus, hepatitis A, and measles.
Infectious diseases—some that ravaged populations in the Middle Ages—are resurging in California and around the country, and are hitting homeless populations especially hard.
…Public health officials and politicians are using terms like “disaster” and “public health crisis” to describe the outbreaks, and they warn that these diseases can easily jump beyond the homeless population.
“Our homeless crisis is increasingly becoming a public health crisis,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his State of the State speech in February, citing outbreaks of hepatitis A in San Diego County, syphilis in Sonoma County and typhus in Los Angeles County.
“Typhus,” he said. “A medieval disease. In California. In 2019.”
After all, we noted this fact as early as 2015, when we noticed the combination of Obamacare and illegal immigration was hitting our public health system hard. Legal Insurrection has also followed the outbreaks of hepatitis A, typhus, measles, and other diseases in the news.
The record levels of previously well-controlled diseases is a disturbing trend. Now the Centers for Disease Control is indicating that the U.S. saw the most sexually transmitted diseases to date.
In 2017, the most recent data reported, there were dramatic increases in gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia.
In the country, there were 2,365,744 reported cases of these three diseases with chlamydia making up more than half of the reports (1,708,569 cases of chlamydia).
Total cases of these two STDs in the U.S. in 1941 was 679,028. Reporting on chlamydia did not begin until 1984 when there were 7,594 cases of the disease.
Popular Science also recently took a look at infectious diseases, addressing the reason that they were so hard to eradicate. Part of the reason can be attributed to politics.
…[G]etting the number of cases from a handful to zero comes with its own set of challenges, says Stephen Blount, director of Special Health Projects at the Carter Center, a human rights and public health nonprofit organization started by former president Jimmy Carter.
When the number of cases gets this small, he says, political issues become increasingly important. “It takes more time and energy and effort to find the last one, two, or 20 cases than [to] find them when there are hundreds.” People who make decisions around resource allocation might also see getting rid of the last handful of cases as a low priority, as there are always other conditions having greater impact.
However, Blount says, the last remnants of a disease won’t go away on their own. “It’ll almost certainly start to get bigger if you discontinue the human effort to drive cases down.”
Once a disease is eradicated, there’s no longer a need for a public health infrastructure to try and beat back the progress of a virus: If it’s not around, there’s no need for anyone to be vaccinated. But until the number of disease cases hits zero, researchers must invest similar effort and resources to keep the condition from spreading.
…“If you take action for a long period of time, and get numbers down, but stop the intervention, it almost certainly will come back,” Blount says.
Today’s politicians have enjoyed the public health works established by previous generations, but have clearly focused on policies that have undermined the solid efforts of their predecessors.
There were reasons rules were established against vagrancy, illegal immigration, unlawful dumping, and public urination. There was also logic behind measures requiring vaccinations, reporting of sexually transmitted diseases, and controlled care for those whose mental illnesses made it impossible for them to care for themselves properly.
Public health policy isn’t there to be mean, racist, or sexist.
It appears our feudal lords are going to have to relearn and reestablish these public health practices one more time if we are to have a healthy future.
Finally, I will simply point out to my governor that if you run a feudal society, you may expect feudal problems.