Florence Nightingale's fever

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7037.1040 (Published 20 April 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1040
  1. Monica E Baly
  1. Former editor, History of Nursing Journal 19 Royal Crescent, Bath BA1 2LT

    EDITOR,—No one doubts that Florence Nightingale's illness was at least partly the consequence of her attack of “Crimean fever” in 1855. There have been many suggestions about the causal organism for this fever, and Brucella melilentis is as convincing as any,1 though Miss Nightingale herself claimed that the fever was typhus.2

    What has intrigued historians is why she stayed in bed, or on a couch, for over 20 years. The short answer is that this was the treatment prescribed and that …

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