< Holocaust Activities

Epidemic, Plague, and Infection

Subject: Science

Grade Levels: 3 through 12


Sunshine State Standards: View all Sunshine State Standards


In Nazi death camps, typhus was spread by lice. Transmission of typhus from human to human increases under conditions of crowded living arrangements, famine, war or any circumstances that lead to heavy infestation with lice. When the louse sucks the blood of a person infected with the parasite causing typhus, the parasite remains in the louse and grows. When the louse is transmitted to another person through contact or clothing, the louse bites the person. The infected feces from the louse are rubbed into the wound, rubbed into the eye or inhaled. Each situation results in human infection. The symptoms of typhus appear abruptly, with severe headache, generalized aches and pains and chills. A fever follows and a rash (lasts for 1-2 weeks) appears over the entire body except for the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The flu-like symptoms can progress to a delirious state and stupor and, without treatment, can result in coma and death.

In ghettos, typhoid spread through contaminated drinking water. Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. Salmonella Typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed S. Typhi in their feces (stool). You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding S. Typhi or if sewage contaminated with S. Typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Once S. Typhi bacteria are eaten or drunk, they multiply and spread into the bloodstream. The body reacts with fever and other signs and symptoms.


Sets of 10 small colored objects for each student, such as colored paper or colored paper clips. Each student needs 10 of the same color, and at least 6 different colors need to be included. Identify the least common color as the disease carrier color, but don't let the students know which color it is.


A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.

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