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John Snow Mapping Cholera 1859

When doing our posts, we try to consider events that had a very real impact on the lives of our ancestors.

One of the most important issues was health, it preoccupied the minds of the rich and poor alike.

    • For the poor, becoming ill could have devastating consequences, not just for the individual but their entire family. With the loss of income  the workhouse beckoned and that struck fear into most people.
    • Therefore the work of informed, creative thinkers such as the surgeon, John Snow as he put his mind to solving the cause of cholera was incredibly important.
    • As the population grew and urban areas became more and more densely populated, so epidemics of cholera swept the country.
    • After the 1848 – 49 outbreak, John Snow decided to systematically track down the cause of the disease in London.
    • He  suspected it was a water borne contamination, not air borne and methodically mapped incidences of cholera, combining it with data about which water companies households bought their water from.

He proved that those who bought water from companies that drew water from the most contaminated parts of the Thames were most likely to suffer from the disease.

John Snow doggedly continued with his work until a particularly brutal outbreak in the area of Broad Street in 1859, led him to draw his now famous spot map of cholera incidences and led him to identify a single water pump as the source of the contamination. Once closed off the incidence rate fell away.

In epidemiological terms it was a giant step forward

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