HANOVER, N.J. — The city of Hanover has been rechristened the Medieval Hospital for the Sick and Dangerous after a new study found that medieval hygiene practiced during the 16th and 17th centuries could help reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, was led by researchers from the university of Oxford, and is based on a collaboration with a team from the University of Copenhagen, who were studying medieval medical records.
In Hanover, for example, where sanitation was the norm, sick people could wash their hands after every meal or after they had their first blood transfusion.
Those who had to wash their feet would do so in a closed room.
The team also tested how the treatment of the sick was different depending on the culture, gender and age of the person.
Hanover also used sanitary pads for washing hands, and in the past had sanitary water and soap.
The research found that using sanitary towels was more effective than washing hands with water, because the bacteria could survive longer.
Hanman’s medieval hygiene was also more effective in preventing the spread than traditional practices.
“Our study has demonstrated that medieval hygienic practices were effective at preventing the transmission of infectious disease and were associated with reduced incidence of respiratory disease, pneumonia and tuberculosis,” said lead author Tarek Z. Almeida, a doctoral student in history at Oxford.
“It’s a great example of how we can learn from ancient cultures in order to improve our own.”
The researchers also found that the more hygiene a person practiced, the less likely they were to have symptoms of tuberculosis and other diseases.
Zeba, a research assistant at the University at Buffalo, said the findings show how important hygiene was in the lives of the people living in Hanover.
“People in Hanmerland had to clean their hands because they were not allowed to go out,” he said.
“And the handwashing was done in a room and the towels were made of linen.”
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.
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