Typhus: The Influence of Society and State on a Human Disease
Professor Michael Besser AM

Abstract
The infectious disease typhus is unusual in its interaction with humans. In Nazi Germany typhus was characterised as the Jewish plague and was pivotal in the medicalisation of anti-Semitism. This came to reflect a society, and its values, through the influence of state ideology and legislature. Medical thinking about a human illness was altered, as was traditional Hippocratic based medical practice, aided by manipulation of the law, to create one of mankind’s bleakest periods.

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