I've been reading up on the Black Death and surprisingly have not found any evidence of improved sanitation in the years immediately following the event. Was there any improvement? Were people aware of any links between the plague and the poor sanitary conditions of the time?

  • 4
    There was little awareness that lack of sanitation was related to disease prior to the 18th century.
    – user15620
    Mar 2, 2017 at 2:00
  • 4
    Well, with much less people running around creating messes it probably improved accidentally.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 2, 2017 at 5:10
  • 5
    Why would there be? Sanitation is an anachronism, not really relevant until the 19th century. Bit like asking whether there was an increase in gene therapy after the black death. They didn't have the theory, so any change in practice was coincidental.
    – MCW
    Mar 2, 2017 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


Improvement in sanitation, based on the understanding that not washing your hands causes disease, is a relatively new concept.

Ignaz Semmelweis was the first man to work out the correlation and publish data. This was in the 1840's, a good couple of centuries after most of the plague had gone from Europe.

It's not just that he was the first to discover it, he had to fight the medical establishment of the day to get his data accepted and understood. Basically, sanitation as a health issue was only accepted in the mainstream near the end of the 19th century.

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