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O.G. Mason 
Unknown Girl: Scabies 
1880-1885 (ca) 
  
Collotype, hand-coloured 
Private collection of John Wood 
 
LL/37716 
  
SCABIES IS an affection of the skin, resulting primarily from the burrowing of minute insects called "acari." The Acarus Scabiei, or itch mite, is a minute and almost microscopic insect. It can be readily seen with the naked eye when extracted from its burrow or cuniculus. If a female, she becomes speedily impregnated by the male, who roams at night upon the free surface of the skin. She then proceeds to burrow, and deposit her ova to the number of a dozen or more beneath the epidermis. At the end of this burrow she dies, unless prematurely removed by the finger nail of her unwilling host. The ova are hatched within fourteen days, and find their way to the surface. Here the maiden acari are wooed, become impregnated, and the borrowing and hatching process is repeated. The burrows are generally found where the skin is thin and warm, as between the fingers, upon the penis in the male, and the nipple in the female. The disease is usually contracted at night, from some affected bedfellow. The itching is almost intolerable. Ordinary cases can be cured in from five to ten days.
 
[George Henry Fox (1846-1937), American pioneer in dermatology]
 
Poem
 
Forget medical history.
  Imagine she was stung
While robbing a hive of honey.
  Such beauty should be sung
Into pastoral poetry.
 
Is she nymph, maid, or shepherdess?
  Oh who could ever care,
But that she stands and hides her breasts
  Which we would have her bare.
Such gentleness is best undressed.
 
In verdant grass she now reclines
  And breaks the honeyed combs.
She lets us bring her cold white wines
  And pillow down with lambs,
And sing her in to antique rhymes.
 
John Wood
 
Source
 
John Wood Endurance and Suffering: Narratives of Disease in the 19th Century (Edition Galerie Vevais, 2009) [Note: First edition is dated March 2007 but was published in October 2008.] 
 

 
  
 
  
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