Hi and “WELCOME” to Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK, BLOG & TRAILER BLOCK PARTY at Watch Nonnie Write!
Here’s what I’m giving away today:
One (1) $25 Amazon gift card
One (1) ebook copy of Through the Nethergate
Number of winners for this stop: 2
About Roberta Writes
I started this blog, Roberta Writes, in 2018 when I changed from writing mainly for children and poetry to writing horror, historical and supernatural short stories and novels. Since launching this blog I have published my first supernatural fantasy novel, Through the Nethergate, with a second supernatural historical novel, A Ghost and His Gold, due for publication in Jan/Feb 2021.
This blog is where I promote my adult and young adult writing and also where I share posts written from prompts, book reviews of adult and classic books, darker poetry and other thoughts about historical events that interest me, writing and life in general.
In keeping with the spirit of this blog, today I am sharing some information about Pandemics, then and now.
Epidemics in the form of malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, influenza, smallpox and other first started appearing 10 000 years ago when humanity shifted from a hunter-gatherer to an agrarian lifestyle.
The creation of cities and forging of trade routes as well as wars have facilitated the spread of these epidemics to become pandemics.
The earliest recorded pandemic happened during the Peloponnesian War after a disease passed through Libya, Ethiopian and Egypt and spread to Athens. This was in 430 B.C. In 165 A.D. the Antonine Plague spread from the Huns throughout the Roman Empire and lasted for fifteen years.
Plagues and pandemics remained with humankind and some of the most well-known examples are the Black Death of 1350 A.D., The Great Plague of London of 1665 A.D., The Spanish Flu of 1918 and the HIV/AIDS pandemic of 1981. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation announced that COVID-19 was officially a pandemic after infecting people in 114 countries in three months.
Mankind is resilient and adaptable and survival strategies were developed to help contain pandemics and allow people to continue with an adapted from of life during disease outbreaks.
The five most important of these strategies are as follows:
- Quarantine – The first legal quarantine occurred in the port city of Ragusa (today’s Dubrovnik) on the 27th of July 1377 during an outbreak of the Black Death. Doctors at this time observed that the spread of the Black Death could be slowed by isolating infected individuals. During the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in 1918, American cities such as San Francisco quarantined naval arrivals before they could enter the city. In both San Francisco and St. Louis, social gatherings were banned, and theatres and schools were closed.
- Socially distant food and drink pickup – During the Italian Plague of 1629 to 1631 A.D. wealthy citizens of Tuscany introduced wine windows whereby narrow windows were cut into homes, to enable wine sellers to sell their wine to waiting customers without the customers entering the homes or the sellers going out into the streets. New York implemented “to-go” cocktail windows during COVID-19 which is based on the same principle.
- Wearing masks – Doctors treating plague patients wore long, bird-like beaks. These beaks created social distance between the patient and the doctor and partially covered their mouth and nose. At that time, doctors believed in miasma theory that diseases spread through bad smells in the air. In 1918, masks played an important role in stopping the spread of infection to the public. San Francisco made wearing masks mandatory in September 1918 and those who didn’t comply faced fines, imprisonment and social shaming. Newspaper printed instructions on how to make masks at home. Does any of this ring a bell with you?
- Washing hands and surfaces – In the early 20th century, hand washing, which was unusual at the time, started to be encouraged. Powder rooms or ground-floor bathrooms were installed for use by guests and delivery people to stop the spread of germs throughout homes.
- Fresh air and adaptive schooling – Universities and schools have been closed in the past to help contain pandemics. In 1665, Isaac Newton was sent home from Cambridge University to him family’s home following an outbreak of bubonic plague. In 1918, American cities adopted the concept of open-air schools to help contain the Spanish Flu pandemic. The movement towards fresh air at this time also encouraged the creation of green spaces in cities.
We can see that pandemics have been a feature of human existence for thousands of years and the current COVID-19 prevention techniques are based on previous experiences in containing the spread of diseases. I thought this was interesting and it also amazes me how little infection prevention has changed over hundreds of years.
About Through the Nethergate
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle
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