What conditions does Matilda experience while helping the sick people?

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Matilda catches yellow fever herself through treating the sick. It's a highly contagious disease, and anyone who comes into contact with it is in serious danger of getting infected. Thankfully, though, Matilda survives, unlike so many in Philadelphia during this terrible outbreak.

This gives her the empathy to treat others...

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Matilda catches yellow fever herself through treating the sick. It's a highly contagious disease, and anyone who comes into contact with it is in serious danger of getting infected. Thankfully, though, Matilda survives, unlike so many in Philadelphia during this terrible outbreak.

This gives her the empathy to treat others with dignity and respect. When she tends to the sick, she becomes all too aware of the primitive state of medical knowledge. After seeing how the French doctors at Bush Hill treated their patients by bleeding them, Mattie is understandably reluctant to call a doctor to see William, Robert, and Nell. She knows from first-hand experience that bleeding doesn't make the fever go away; it simply makes patients weaker, thus making it much harder for them to fight the disease.

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