Sevilay Özer

Keywords: Typhus, Spotted Fever, World War I, Epidemic


Ottoman Empire had to struggle with epidemic diseases during the First World War besides struggling with entente states. Among these diseases, typhus, which infected many people through pediculus, had become an epidemic and thousands of people died because of the disease. It is understood that the disease especially caused serious damage in Caucasian front and after spreading to places such as schools and jails, the disease was widely seen among public. Against this serious epidemic, which spread very fast because of the poverty, the state attempted to take precautions without losing time although there were insufficient means. Cleaning houses and hammams (Turkish baths) were established as it was understood that cleaning was very important in preventing the disease, and it was attempted to inform people about the epidemic. But it is obvious that, despite all these precautions, the struggle wasn't successful because of the scarcity of water and soap. Because of the seriousness of the disease, all of the administrative chiefs were put on full alert and many significant steps and precautions were taken in order to prevent and end the epidemic. Bake houses, tandouris, special vapor cases and sulphuring rooms were used for this purpose. In addition to these, many people, most of whom were health officers, were vaccinated under limited conditions. At the end of the war, although there was an important progress, it wasn't enough to stop the pain and sufferings because of losses in these years.