Leech collector

A leech collector, leech gatherer, or leech finder was a person occupied with procuring medicinal leeches, which were in growing demand in 19th-century Europe. Leeches were used in bloodletting but were not easy for medical practitioners to obtain. The collector would sometimes gather the leeches by attracting them to the legs of animals, often old horses. More commonplace was for the collector to use their own legs, gathering the leech after it had finished sucking enough blood. Many in the profession suffered from the effects of the loss of blood and infections spread by the leeches.
Leech collectors were active across the United Kingdom, with bogs and marshes being the best hunting ground. They were described by artist George Walker in his 1814 book The Costume of Yorkshire as being predominately Scottish women.
The career was seasonal; leech collectors could not work in the colder months because the leeches would not be particularly active.
There are obvious negative effects of being repeatedly bitten by leeches, most commonly the significant and dangerous levels of blood loss.
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