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, 11, 38-46

[The Plague in Finland in 1710]

[Article in Finnish]
  • PMID: 11640321

[The Plague in Finland in 1710]

[Article in Finnish]
N G Engström. Hippokrates (Helsinki).


In the autumn of 1710 Helsinki was struck by the so-called oriental plague during four months. The infection was transferred by black rats which harboured fleas. The flea-bites caused boils. It was believed that the plague was air-borne, and the air was very humid that autumn. Big fires were lit in order to reduce the humidity, the purpose being to make it easier for the infected to breathe. Attempts were also made to dissect the boils. The carriers of the contamination came as refugees from Estland over the Gulf of Finland. The infection had spread from Turkey to Poland and Balticum after the defeat of the Finnish-Swedish army in the summer of 1709 at Poltava in Ucraine. Helsingfors (Helsinki) was struck extremely hard. About two-thirds of the inhabitants died of the pestilence. Some escaped by fleeing to the countryside. The plague spread through the country as far north as to Uleåborg (Oulu) and Cajana (Kajaani). Marketplaces became important centres of infection. With the advent of the frost in December the plague dwindled. At that time Helsinki was practically a dead town.

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