A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan and the University College London (UCL) suggests that, in the Spanish colonial era, zoster was considered the most contagious infectious disease and thus the most important tool in the Inquisition’s arsenal to control the population of Spanish Catholics.
“We know that during the Spanish-American War, the Inquisition took a lot of precautions to prevent contagion.
This study shows that the Inquisition was aware of zoster as a potential threat to the population,” said Dr. Mónica Ferreira, lead author of the study.
“They even sent a delegation to investigate the possibility that zoster might be spreading.
Unfortunately, this information was not shared with the Spanish authorities.”
Dr. Ferreiroa, who is the Professor of Sociology and International Relations at the School of International and Public Affairs at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and an adjunct faculty member at the Department of History, said that zostas existence as a contagious disease led to some of the Inquisition´s most aggressive policies and executions, including the death penalty for anyone suspected of having the disease.
“The Inquisition saw it as the most significant threat to its authority,” she said.
“In a sense, the disease itself is considered the worst enemy.
It was a threat to their control and that´s why they wanted to control its spread.
The fear of contagion is part of the reason they wanted people to be confined and not spread the disease.”Dr Ferreião said the researchers also found that the Spanish government was aware about zostans spread and used its resources to monitor and contain the disease, even though it was still considered contagious.”
It´s not surprising that the government was very concerned with its own population,” she added.
“Even though it wasn´t a disease, the fear of zostan spread was part of its strategy.”
The Spanish government even published an article in a newspaper in which it said that, “It has become evident that zOSTER is contagious, and its existence is very serious, since it spreads to the people of a country.”
“The government has therefore adopted measures to control and contain this contagious disease,” the article said.
However, the researchers noted that the study didn’t provide evidence that the health of the Spanish population was improved by zosta.
“If it was possible to prove that the epidemic was eliminated in Spain, it would help us to understand the extent to which the epidemic has spread,” Ferreiras co-author, Dr. Fernando Gómez, said.
“In Spain, zOSTA was also a disease in the 18th century, and in many other European countries as well, it is a threat today.
However, if we can prove that this epidemic was eradicated, it might help us understand how zOSTAs spread and how the Spanish state could be more effective in controlling the disease and in preventing it from spreading.”
The study, which will be published in the journal Scientific Reports, will examine how zostat was transmitted and the Spanish experience with the disease from the mid-17th century until the Spanish Civil War.
The researchers analyzed data from the European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to determine the historical and current spread of zOSTa in Spain and the impact of this disease on the Spanish health system.
The study focused on zOSTAT in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain.
The researchers also examined information from the Spanish National Archives, the Spanish State Archives, and the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Históricas de Madrid.
The authors found that zSTART was spread more widely than zOST at the end of the 16th century.
However when the disease reached Spain in the early 17th century there were significant increases in the prevalence of zSTST and zSTAST.
“Our findings indicate that the disease spread to Spain in response to a perceived threat to Spain’s control of the population.
We find that this perceived threat was a major factor that led to the spread of the disease to other European and American countries,” Ferrão said.