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Two 'Simpsonette' anti-mosquito hoods, United Kingdom, 1901-1930

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This hood was worn to protect the wearer from the bites of mosquitoes and flies that carried diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and sleeping sickness. The hood is placed on the head and tied under the chin; its novel feature is that it could be worn over hats and helmets. The longer loops are passed through the arms, under or over clothes, and are tied around the front so that the whole of the upper body is protected. Diseases such as malaria were widespread in Africa but British and European doctors had little or no experience of treating them and did not understand how the diseases were spread until tropical medicine began providing answers in the late 1880s and 1890s.

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Glossary: sleeping sickness

A serious disease that is common in much of tropical Africa, transmitted by tsetse flies. Symptoms include fever, headache, lethargy, confusion, tremors, and loss of weight.

Glossary: yellow fever

Infectious viral disease of hot climates. Symptoms include vomiting, constipation and jaundice.

Glossary: malaria

Parasitic disease transmitted by certain kinds of mosquito. Malaria is characterized by fever and enlargement of the spleen. Each year, there are approximately 515 million cases of malaria, killing between one and three million people.

Glossary: tropical medicine

Tropical medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with health problems that are more widespread in tropical and subtropical regions.

Glossary: anti-mosquito hood

A hood used to protect the wearer from flies and mosquitoes.

Glossary: tropical disease

Diseases that are unique to or common in tropical areas. They are often water- or insect-borne. Examples of tropical diseases include leprosy, malaria, sleeping sickness and yellow fever.