Combatants & Infection

“In several nineteenth-century battles, about 5 percent of the combatants contracted tetanus infections; of those, about 80 percent died. Approximately 5 percent of the wounded combatants in ancient wars contracted gangrene, another infection caused by bacteria in soil. Washing of the wound could reduce the incidence, and amputation might save an infected limb, but if the infection was not caught in time, death was almost certain. Blood poisoning was another danger, especially when a main blood vessel was hit and the spot became infected. This infection, known as septicemia, was less common than tetanus and gangrene, but almost always fatal.” (Wells, 2003, p.200-201).


Wells, P.S. (2003) The Battle That Stopped Rome: Emperor Augustus, Arminius, and the Slaughter of the Legions in the Teutoburg Forest. London: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd.


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