What we now know

Published in Features, Issue 5 (September/October 2013), The Famine, Volume 21

Dr Dominic Corrigan was technically incorrect when he stated that famine and fever were cause and effect, and so, by extension, was Carleton. What we now know, but which Corrigan and his professional colleagues in the pre-Famine period did not, is that fever is caused by germs, specific micro-organisms, and that human head and body lice were responsible for disseminating the disease. Famine in Ireland invariably saw a huge upsurge in migration, begging and vagrancy, and it was this increased itinerancy, this wholesale movement of people, that was largely responsible for spreading fever throughout the country.

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