I've always scene these types of masks featured in freaky movies, but had no idea that they were used by doctors in the 17th century to treat people who got infected by the plague.
"Scientists thought the plague was caused by breathing harmful gases emitted from the ground, and doctors put flowers, fragrant spices and perfumes in the mask’s beak to shield them from patients contaminated with those gases, a new exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Natural History shows.
Bubonic plague was characterized by painful swelling and body sores that caused the body to turn black when they burst. Doctors now know the so-called “black death” — people often died within a week or two of being infected — was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis."
“Microbes: Invisible Invaders, Amazing Allies” runs through Sept. 13. It will take museum visitors on an interactive journey to learn about how microbes both sustain life on Earth and harm our health — and perhaps even threaten our existence, according to museum Marketing and External Affairs Director Ryan Barber.