The Lutheran church book of Iłów 1794-1800 shows a noticeable number of cases where the cause of death is given as Epilepsy.
In most cases children under the age of 3 were concerned. In one case the cause of death initially was given as "children's illness" but later "Epilepsy" was added.
Is it possible that so many of the colonists have been affected by Epilepsy?
Present-day statistics show that only 1-5 % of the population suffer from Epilepsy. Has Epilepsy been much more frequent in former days?
Epilepsy is one of the longest known ailments of humankind. In Antiquity Epilepsy was called the sacred disease (morbus sacer). During the Middle Ages Epilepsy had almost as many responsible saints as the Black Death. At the beginning of the 20th century Epilepsy was still considered as an enigmatic and horrific disease, often identified as a mental disease.
Today we know, that Epilepsy is not a disease but a neurological condition. Epilepsy cannot be epidemic and only in 10% of the cases a genetic disposition encourages seizures.
So can it be possible that so many children died from Epilepsy?
Is it possible that certain environmental conditions at that time and in that area caused epileptic seizures?
Or was there a certain "to have" for death causes at that time?
Annegret Krause pointed out that the children might have been suffering from febrile or feverish spasms before they died. Febrile spasms are not unusual for children aged between 6 months and 5 years. The children get spasms caused by rapidly rising fever. The symptoms are very similar to an epileptical seizure.
So the cause of death was probably neither epilepsy nor the febrile spasms but the infection that caused the fever to rise so rapidly.