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The pied Piper of Hamelin. A medical-historical interpretation.

Authors
  • Dirckx, J H
Type
Published Article
Journal
American Journal of Dermatopathology
Publisher
Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer) - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1980
Volume
2
Issue
1
Pages
39–45
Identifiers
PMID: 7018287
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

A historical basis is proposed for the 13th-century legend of the Pied Piper, who led away the rats from the town of Hamelin and when refused payment for his services, led away 130 children and disappeared with them in the mountains. It is suggested that the children actually died in an outbreak of disease and were buried in a common grave at the site of the legendary disappearance. The association with rats points to a rodent-borne infection, and the pied (mottled) coat of the piper seems to indicate a disease causing conspicuous macular lesions. Historical and epidemiologic arguments are presented in favor of murine typhus as the predominant infection in the Hamelin epidemic.

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