Historical information

In 825, the Irish clergyman Dicuil described the land of Thule (Iceland), where there was no daylight in winter, but on summer nights 'whatever task a man wishes to perform, even picking lice from his shirt, he can manage as well as in clear daylight' (Tierney 1967). Echinococcosis, fleas, and lice of humans are already mentioned in the Sagas, which were written in Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (Magnusson 1913; Norddal 1944; Benediktsson 1967). Furthermore, lice have been found in medieval and post-medieval excavations (Sveinbjarnardottir and Buckland 1983; Amorosi et al. 1992; Buckland et al. 1992).

Until the middle of the eighteenth century, however, little was known about human parasites in Iceland. Olafsson and Palsson, who travelled in the country from 1752 to 1757 and systematically collected contemporary information on the natural history, reported the

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presence of some human parasites (Olafsson 1981). Somewhat later, Mohr (1786) also reported some human parasites. Also, the General of Health in north Iceland, from 1775 to 1801, included some information on human parasites in his 'Therapy book for the general public' (Petursson 1834). However, during most of the nineteenth century, scarce additional information was published on human parasites in Iceland.

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