British physician Thomas Lodge dated a dedication to his "Treatise of the Plague" on this day in 1603. During the 16th century, London was bedeviled by the plague, a contagious, often deadly scourge caused by a bacterium and spread by fleas initially infected by biting tainted rats, and then from person to person. The city's Privy Council ordered physicians such as Lodge to write treatises on the disease in hopes of curbing it. Lodge believed that Londons noxious smells, its infected citizens and their filthy clothing, and the city's pervasive dirt helped to spread the plague. Further, he urged "... for such as are vagabonds, masterless men, and of servile and base condition, for such I say, they ought not to be admitted [into the City]." Officials began isolating the sick; anyone infected with a plague-induced sore could be beaten, and infected people who consorted with others could be hanged.
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