Leprosy bacilli from 'Memorandum on the prevention of leprosy by segregation
of the affected', 1887.
This colour illustration shows reproducing leprosy bacilli surrounded by tissue cells.
Leprosy is a chronic bacterial infection which produces skin disfigurements of the face and limbs. The bacterial cause of leprosy was discovered in 1873, but effective medical treatments weren't available until the 1940s.
From the 12th century, acts were passed which demanded lepers to be segregated from unaffected people. Leper hospitals and houses were founded throughout the country, in Shetland, Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Roxburgh. In segregation, lepers had to fend for themselves.
The last known Scottish case of leprosy was recorded in 1798.
This book was on show in 'Plague!', our exhibition on Scotland's history of disease, which ran at the National Library from 11 December 2015 to 29 May 2016.