Cholera Essay Introduction

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John Snow, along with his assistant Mr John Joseph Whiting, visited the dwellings of every person who died from cholera in South London during this period.

With utmost attention to detail and at great risk to their own personal health, Snow and Whiting recorded important details surrounding the deaths of these individuals.

An estimated 3-5 million cases and over 100,000 deaths occur each year around the world.

Rehydration treatment, provision of safe water, and adequate sanitation and hygiene remain the mainstay of cholera control and prevention efforts.

Because of its close proximity to downtown, the intake drew water contaminated with sewage that had emptied into the River Thames.

Arthur Hill Hassall, a British physician, stated that ‘This water was the most disgusting which I have ever examined: when I first saw the water of the Southwark Company, I thought it as bad as it could be, but this far exceeded it in the peculiarly repulsive character of living contents’.To exploit the Grand Experiment, Snow and his assistant, Mr John Joseph Whiting, visited the addresses where each of the cholera deaths occurred and recorded the details surrounding each death.Snow placed Mr Whiting in charge of visiting the addresses that lay in districts where water was supplied only by the Southwark and Vauxhall Waterworks Company.Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that in severe cases rapidly leads to dehydration and death if appropriate treatment is not provided immediately.It is caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium (toxigenic strains of O1 and O139 types).However, Snow's 'germ' theory of disease was not widely accepted until the 1860s.Snow was also a pioneer in the field of anaesthetics.To commemorate the 160th anniversary of the publication of Snow’s second edition of and to redress this epidemiological slight, we highlight John Snow’s important work in South London, unearth the original data that Snow collected at great risk to his own personal health and present a first-time mapping of these data in time and space.We trust that this piece will foster a deeper appreciation for John Snow’s contribution to epidemiology and increase respect for small yet valuable epidemiological data.However, Snow did not accept this 'miasma' (bad air) theory, arguing that in fact entered the body through the mouth.He published his ideas in an essay 'On the Mode of Communication of Cholera' in 1849.


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