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Arch Hellen Med, 39(3), May-June 2023, 397-409


The living conditions and care of the lepers on the islet of Spinalonga

Ν. Stavrakakis
"Venizelio-Pananio" General Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Crete was the location of the main leprosy outbreak in Greece in the early part of the 20th century. The lepers of the island were initially kept confined to small settlements outside the city walls, until in 1903 the islet of Spinalonga was designated as a place of isolation. Spinalonga functioned as a place of isolation and not as a place of healing. The lepers lived in miserable conditions and felt neglected by the state. Their life was tragic, according to the testimonies coming from themselves and from the doctors or travelers who visited them. They tried to offer themselves relief using various folk medicine practices, but after the discovery of sulphons in the 1940s the situation changed permanently, promin treatment was given, and in 1957 the Spinalonga leprosarium was closed after 53 years of operation.

Key words: Confinement, Hansen disease, Isolation, Leprosy, Spinalonga.

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