Measures against the plague were often extreme.
The city authorities reacted firmly and responsibly. The Mayor ordered:
- Public prayers, and days of confession.
- Closure of public places like theatres and dancing-houses.
- Fires in the streets to purify the air.
- The killing of cats and dogs, which were thought to carry the plague. It was estimated that 40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed.
- Doctors were appointed to look after the poor.
- Houses where someone got the plague were shut up, and marked with a red cross. 'God have mercy upon us' was written on the door.
- Burial of the dead in mass graves.
- Those employed in the collection of bodies frequently smoked tobacco to avoid catching the plague.
- Many people just stayed indoors. Others fled to the countryside.
- Doctors advised people to fumigate their houses, and keep the windows closed.
- People refused to touch other people. Money was dropped into jars of vinegar.
- People carried bottles of perfume and wore lucky charms.
- 'Cures' for the plague included the letters 'abracadabra' written in a triangle, a lucky hare's foot, dried toad, leeches, and pressing a plucked chicken against the plague-sores until it died.