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Disease and Discoveries
A new medical condition was caused by life in the trenches.

Disease and Discoveries

Disease and Discoveries is all about medicine.

The First World War witnessed the greatest attempt the world had ever seen to cause wounds and death. Bodies of those killed or injured littered battlefields and in the trenches disease was rife. But, ironically, from the horrors of war came many advancements in medicine. The war spurred on doctors and scientists to great discoveries, and for the people who came afterwards the world of medicine had changed. Still, many millions of men had to die for us to benefit.

1.
Thousands of men's lives were saved by a machine invented by British surgeon Geoffrey Keynes. What could this machine do?
It could re-start the heart
It could store blood
It could breathe artificially for a patient
It could cauterise wounds shut
The machine was a portable device for storing and carrying blood, bringing blood transfusions to many wounded men. Blood transfusion was in its infancy during World War One. Very little regard was given to differences in blood type until later in the war and this may have killed some soldiers. On the whole, many more men would have died if they had not been given blood
2.
A new medical condition was caused by life in the trenches and took its name from them. What was it called?
Trench leg
Trench chills
Trench foot
Trench flu
Trench foot was caused by exposure to damp, cold and unsanitary conditions, all of which were present in the trenches. The condition caused blisters and sores which would eventually lead to gangrene and amputation if it was not treated in time
3.
Injuries caused by trench warfare brought about an increased knowledge on a particular organ of the body and how it works. Which organ?
The brain
The heart
The liver
The pancreas
To see what was going on, men in the trenches had to poke their heads over the parapets. Many were shot and the amount of men with injuries to their brains was higher than in any previous war. This allowed Sir Gordon Holmes, a neurologist working in a field hospital, to discover how lesions in different parts of the brain caused different results. Consequently our knowledge of brain function was immensely increased
4.
Typhoid fever was a common disease in the trenches. By what means was it spread?
Through coughs and sneezes
It was spread by the enemy
Through eating contaminated food
It was contained in the soil
The poor hygienic conditions of the trenches, coupled with an abundance of rats and flies, spread contaminated faecal matter to food and water. At the time there were no antibiotics to treat the disease and many men died from it
5.
Sir Harold Gillies was a New Zealander who worked for the British Army Medical Corps during the war. In which field of medicine was he a pioneer?
Bacteriology
Organ transplantation
Vaccination
Plastic surgery
Gillies was responsible for the opening of a hospital which undertook solely facial reconstruction. Many thousands of men had been disfigured by gunshot wounds to their faces and Gillies and his team performed over 11,000 operations on more than 5,000 men. Before then, reconstructive surgery barely existed
6.
Trench fever was another disease of the war. It was carried by which animal?
Rats
Lice
Dogs
Mosquitoes
Lice were rampant in the trenches and the disease was all too common. Fortunately it was rarely fatal and most sufferers recovered after five days, though in some cases heart-failure resulted in death. Three famous British authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and A.A. Milne all caught the disease
7.
One piece of medical equipment, common today, was first used shortly prior to and during the war. What was it?
The heart monitor
The anaesthetic
The X-ray
The stethoscope
X-rays were discovered in 1895 by German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen. They had initially been used to detect broken bones but during the war, their main use was locating bullets which had penetrated soldiers' bodies
8.
In 1918 a new deadly disease, a type of influenza, appeared in the trenches. What nickname was given to the outbreak?
Spanish 'flu
Trench 'flu
German 'flu
War 'flu
Despite its name, the disease did not originate in Spain. To safeguard morale, reporting of the spread of the disease was restricted in all nations which were at war. Effects of the disease was reported in Spain, it being neutral, earning the 'flu its erroneous nickname
9.
What proportion of deaths in the War were caused by disease rather than the enemy?
About one sixth
About one fifth
About one quarter
About one third
This sounds like a large amount but with the advancements in medicine, the number killed by disease was less than it had been in previous wars. In the 19th century more than half the men who died in wars had been killed by disease
10.
The influenza virus spread throughout the world after the War when infected troops returned home. How many people worldwide caught the disease?
100,000,000 people
300,000,000 people
500,000,000 people
700,000,000 people
One quarter of the people in the world became infected with the 'flu. Of these, about one fifth were killed by the virus. It is the most-deadly natural disaster ever to have been witnessed by mankind

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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