Sawbones: Leprosy


Biblical stories are chock full of people cured of leprosy, but what about the 99.9999% of the leprosy-havers that weren't lucky enough to come across a miracle worker? As you might have imagined if you've listened to our show before, things ... didn't go so well. This week on Sawbones, Dr. Sydnee and Justin walk you through the unfortunate history of leprosy.

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Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Leper communities still are around

At least in places like Ghana. One of my friends reported on one a few years ago. It sprung up around the clinic where the patients were treated, but because of religion and poor education on leprosy, the treated people aren't welcomed back into their homes or community:

Untouchable Army

In legend and fiction, a few authors have imagined creating toxic assassins by exaggerating mithridatism (immunity via non-lethal doses), as if it could make their bodily fluids dangerous.

Ancient Indian folklore had "visha kanya" (poison maidens).

An episode of the sci-fi TV series, Invisble Man, made up the word "Catevari" pretending Romans had the same idea. (Grr, fake history.)

TvTropes lists the general archetype as "Poisonous Person".

Infected Army

@25:34: "Imagine it, an army of people with leprosy."

There's speculation that Hittites deliberately released tularemia-infected sheep into enemy lands, as early biological warfare.

No mention of whether the sheep knew martial arts, however.

Leprosy Song

Dear Sydnee and Justin,

We love your Sawbones podcasts and go through withdrawals when you skip a week!

So, for this week's topic....have you ever heard the "Leprosy song"? Just sing the following lyrics to the tune of "Yesterday" by the Beatles:

Leprosy....I'm not half the man I used to be.......
Toes and fingers falling off of me....
Oh, I've contracted Leprosy.........

Kiss me quick.....
Before I lose my upper lip....
I don't even have a nose to pick....
Oh, I've contracted Leprosy.....

There's more but I don't know the remaining lyrics or who the author is to attribute this to...