1887

n Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie - Die ontstaan en ontwikkeling van melaatsheid in die antieke tyd s

Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0254-3486
  • E-ISSN: 2222-4173

Abstract

In die geskiedenis was daar waarskynlik geen ander siekte wat die mensdom met soveel vrees en weersin vervul het as melaatsheid () nie. Die Hebreeuse Bybelverwysing na (Lev. 13-14) het gedui op 'n oënskynlik nie-dodelike skilferige velsiekte, wat as 'n ritueelonrein toestand deur die priesters met verbanning uit die gemeenskap hanteer is. Alhoewel feitlik sekerlik nie melaatsheid nie, is in die volksmond mettertyd met hierdie siekte geassosieer. In die 5de / 4de eeu v.C. is 'n soortgelyke onskuldige veltoestand deur Hippokrates genoem, en in die Griekse vertaling van na in die Septuagint, 3de eeu v.C., is hierdie naam moontlik uit die Hippokratiese Corpus ontleen. Ware melaatsheid, 'n kroniese siekte deur veroorsaak, begin as 'n velsiekte maar mag mettertyd prominente verminking van die liggaam veroorsaak. Te oordeel aan geskrifte van die tyd, mag dit moontlik reeds in die 2de millennium v.C. in Mesopotamië en Egipte, en 'n millennium later in China en Indië teenwoordig gewees het. Dit is moontlik in die 4de eeu v.C. deur die leërs van Alexander die Grote uit Indië en Mesopotamië na die Middellandse seegebied gebring. Die vroegste osteo-argeologiese bewys van melaatsheid is in Egiptiese skedels wat na die 2de eeu v.C. terugdateer, gevind. Siektebeskrywings, herkenbaar as melaatsheid, is in die 3de eeu v.C. deur Strato in Alexandrië opgeteken. Hierdie toestand, wat as elefantiase / elefas bekend geword het, is daarna deur verskeie geneeshere beskryf, en het onder andere na Griekeland en Italië en daarna deur die Romeinse Ryk versprei. In Europa het dit eers in die Middeleeue 'n epidemiese omvang aangeneem. Alhoewel dit aanvanklik met standaard-terapie van die tyd behandel is, is die rituele isoleringsmaatreëls wat vir gegeld het mettertyd na elefantiase oorgeplaas. Stigmatisering van die siekte as 'n Goddelike straf het op laasgenoemde van krag geword, en die naam is van elefantiase na lepra (melaatsheid) verander.


Through the ages leprosy has filled mankind with awe and horror. It still remains one of the unconquered infectious diseases, although the World Health Organisation reports a decrease in its prevalence (18 million to two million new cases annually over the past 20 years). For many, leprosy's origins are to be traced back to the Hebrew Bible and the condition of zara'ath mentioned in Leviticus 13-14. This was a light-coloured scaly skin lesion which rendered the patient ritually unclean. Such a person was banned from society by a priest, and could only return on being pronounced clean. Zara'ath was almost certainly a benign skin lesion and not leprosy. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek (the Septuagint) in the 3rd century BC, zara'ath was translated as lepros / lepra, possibly after an apparently comparable disease described in theHippocratic Corpus (5th - 4th centuries BC). The Hippocratic disease was clearly a benign, scaly skin eruption, and not leprosy as we know it. The fact that leprosy, as a very chronic progressive disease with a characteristic clinical picture, was not described by Hippocrates, almost certainly means that it did not occur in the Greek community of the time.
True leprosy is an infection caused by mycobacterium leprae, and manifests initially as lightcoloured skin macules. With prominent bodily immunity against the organism the skin lesions enlarge slowly, later become scaly with a numb surface, and are complicated by nervous infiltration and atrophic degeneration of the extremities (tuberculoid leprosy). With low immunity, progressive nodular infiltration of skin and underlying structures result in extensive deformities (e.g. the typical "leonine facies"), subcutaneous abscesses, destruction of nerves and other tissues, blindness,deafness and testicular atrophy (lepromatous leprosy). Medical writings of ancient civilisations show that a leprosy-like disease was recognised in Mesopotamia by the 2nd millennium BC, and possibly in India and China in the 1st millennium BC. It has been suggested that leprosy was brought to the Mediterranean region by Alexander the Great's armies, 4th century BC.

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/content/aknat/28/1/EJC20445
2009-12-01
2019-08-21

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