Wartime Wednesday: Leprosy and WWII
So what does Hansen's disease have to do with WWII?
A Filipino woman named Josefina "Joey" Guerrero used it spy on behalf of the Allied forces. Orphaned at an early age, Joey was raised by her uncle in Manila. She married a physician, and shortly thereafter gave birth to a daughter. The wealthy socialite was the belle of the ball. Life looked bright.
Then in 1941, Joey was diagnosed with leprosy. As required by the laws of the time, Joey was separated from her family - her young husband and her two-year-old daughter. She never saw her husband again, and only saw her daughter once.
Because of her disease, Joey received cursory inspections from the guards. As mentioned, leprosy was thought to be highly contagious, and the soldiers were terrified of contracting it. Thus, the notes and messages she carried in her baskets or on her person went undetected.
If you want to learn more about this fascinating woman, check out Ben Montgomery's new book The Leper Spy.