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Diseases and epidemics in the 19th Century

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Diseases and epidemics of the 19th century

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During the Wikipedia:19th Century, three previously encountered diseases and one emerging infectious disease, Cholera, reached Wikipedia:epidemic proportions. Cholera came in seven waves, the last two of which occurred in the Wikipedia:20th Century.

19th C epidemics were faced without the medical advances that made 20th C epidemics much more rare and less lethal. Wikipedia:Micro-organisms (viruses and bacteria) had been discovered in the Wikipedia:18th Century, but it was not until the late 19th C that the experiments of Wikipedia:Lazzaro Spallanzani and Wikipedia:Louis Pasteur disproved Wikipedia:spontaneous generation conclusively, allowing Wikipedia:germ theory and Wikipedia:Robert Koch's discovery of micro-organisms as the cause of Wikipedia:disease transmission. Thus throughout the majority of the 19th C, there was only the most basic, commonsense understanding of the causes, amelioration and treatment of epidemic disease.

[[Wikipedia:Image:Cholera 395.1.jpg|thumb|250px|Hand bill from the New York City Board of Health, 1832—the outdated public health advice demonstrates the lack of understanding of the disease and its actual causative factors]] The late 19th C was the beginning of widespread use of Wikipedia:vaccines.[1][2] The cholera bacterium was isolated in 1854 by Italian anatomist Wikipedia:Filippo Pacini,[3] and a vaccine, the first to immunize humans against a bacterial disease, was developed by Spanish physician Wikipedia:Jaume Ferran i Clua in 1885,[4] and by Russian-Jewish bacteriologist Wikipedia:Waldemar Haffkine in July 1892.[5]

Wikipedia:Antibiotic drugs did not appear until the middle of the 20th C. Wikipedia:Sulfonamides did not appear until 1935, and Wikipedia:Penicillin, discovered in 1928, was not available as a treatment until 1950.During the second Cholera pandemic of 1816-1851, the scientific community varied in its beliefs about its causes. In France doctors believed cholera was associated with the poverty of certain communities or poor environment. Russians believed the disease was contagious and quarantined their citizens. The United States believed that cholera was brought by recent immigrants, specifically the Irish. Lastly, some British thought the disease might rise from divine intervention.[6]

During the third pandemic, Tunisia, which had not been affected by the two previous pandemics, thought Europeans had brought the disease. They blamed their sanitation practices. The prevalence of the disease in the South in areas of black populations convinced United States scientists that cholera was associated with African Americans. Current researchers note they lived near the waterways by which travelers and ships carried the disease and their populations were underserved with sanitation infrastructure and health care.[7]

The Wikipedia:Soho outbreak in London in 1854 ended after the physician John Snow identified a neighborhood Wikipedia:Broad Street pump as contaminated and convinced officials to remove its handle.[8] His study proved contaminated water was the main agent spreading cholera, although he did not identify the contaminant. It would take many years for this message to be believed and acted upon. thumb|left|Disinfection team in the 1892 cholera outbreak in Hamburg In London, in June 1866[9]), a localized epidemic in the East End claimed 5,596 lives, just as the city was completing construction of its major sewage and water treatment systems. Wikipedia:William Farr, using the work of John Snow, et al., as to contaminated drinking water being the likely source of the disease, relatively quickly identified the East London Water Company as the source of the contaminated water. Quick action prevented further deaths.[10]

During the Wikipedia:fifth cholera pandemic, Wikipedia:Robert Koch isolated Wikipedia:Vibrio cholerae and proposed postulates to explain how bacteria caused disease. His work helped to establish the Wikipedia:germ theory of disease. Prior to this time, many physicians believed that microorganisms were spontaneously generated, and disease was caused by direct exposure to filth and decay. Koch helped establish that the disease was more specifically contagious and was transmittable through contaminated water supply. The fifth was the last serious European cholera outbreak, as cities improved their sanitation and water systems.


Main article: Wikipedia:Cholera outbreaks and pandemics

thumb|100px|Cholera Bacteria Cholera is an infection of the Wikipedia:small intestine caused by the bacterium Wikipedia:Vibrio cholerae. Cholera is transmitted primarily by drinking water or eating food[11] that has been contaminated by the cholera bacteria. The bacteria multiply in the small intestine;[12] the Wikipedia:feces (waste product) of an infected person, including one wth no apparent symptoms, can pass on the disease if it contacts the water supply by any means.[12]

History does not recount any incidents of cholera until the nineteenth century. Cholera came in seven waves, the last two of which occurred in the Wikipedia:20th Century.

The Wikipedia:first cholera pandemic started in 1816, spread across Wikipedia:India by 1820,[13] and extended to Wikipedia:Southeast Asia and Wikipedia:Central Europe, lasting until 1826.

A Wikipedia:second cholera pandemic began in 1829, reached Russia, causing the Wikipedia:Cholera Riots). It spread to Wikipedia:Hungary, Wikipedia:Germany and Wikipedia:Egypt in 1831,[14] and Wikipedia:London, Wikipedia:Paris, Quebec, Ontario and Wikipedia:New York the following year.[15][10] Cholera reached the Pacific coast of North America by 1834, reaching into the center of the country by steamboat and other river traffic.[16]

In 1846, cholera struck Wikipedia:Mecca, killing over 15,000.[17] A two-year outbreak began in Wikipedia:England and Wales in 1848, and claimed 52,000 lives.[18] In 1849, outbreak occurred again in Paris, and in London, killing 14,137, over twice as many as the 1832 outbreak. Cholera hit Wikipedia:Ireland in 1849 and killed many of the Irish Famine survivors, already weakened by starvation and fever.[19] In 1849, cholera claimed 5,308 lives in the major port city of Wikipedia:Liverpool, Wikipedia:England, an embarkation point for immigrants to North America, and 1,834 in Hull, England.[10] Cholera spread throughout the Mississippi river system.[10] Thousands died in Wikipedia:New York, a major destination for Irish immigrants.[10] Cholera claimed 200,000 victims in Wikipedia:Mexico.[20] That year, cholera was transmitted along the California, Mormon and Wikipedia:Oregon Trails, killing people are believed to have died on their way to the Wikipedia:California Gold Rush, Wikipedia:Utah and Wikipedia:Oregon in the cholera years of 1849–1855.[21][10][22][23] In 1851, a ship coming from Cuba carried the disease to Wikipedia:Gran Canaria.

The Wikipedia:third cholera pandemic hit Russia hardest, with over one million deaths. It spread east to Indonesia by 1852, and Wikipedia:China and Japan in 1854. The Wikipedia:Philippines were infected in 1858 and Wikipedia:Korea in 1859. In 1859, an outbreak in Bengal contributed to transmission of the disease by travelers and troops to Wikipedia:Iran, Wikipedia:Iraq, Wikipedia:Arabia and Russia.[17] Japan suffered at least seven major outbreaks of cholera between 1858 and 1902. The Wikipedia:Ansei outbreak of 1858-60, for example, is believed to have killed between 100,000 and 200,000 people in Wikipedia:Tokyo alone.[24] An outbreak of cholera in Wikipedia:Chicago in 1854 took the lives of 5.5% of the population (about 3,500 people).[10][25] In 1853–4, London's epidemic claimed 10,738 lives. Throughout Wikipedia:Spain, cholera caused more than 236,000 deaths in 1854–55.[26] In 1854, it entered Venezuela; Brazil also suffered in 1855.[20]

The Wikipedia:fourth cholera pandemic (1863–1875) spread mostly in Europe and Wikipedia:Africa. At least 30,000 of the 90,000 Wikipedia:Mecca pilgrims died from the disease. Cholera ravaged northern Africa in 1865 and southeastward to Wikipedia:Zanzibar, killing 70,000 in 1869–70.[27] Cholera claimed 90,000 lives in Russia in 1866.[28] The epidemic of cholera that spread with the Wikipedia:Austro-Prussian War (1866) is estimated to have taken 165,000 lives in the Wikipedia:Austrian Empire.[29] In 1867, 113,000 lost their lives to cholera in Wikipedia:Italy.[30] and 80,000 in Wikipedia:Algeria.[27][[Wikipedia:File:Cholerabaracke-HH-1892.gif|thumb|1892 cholera outbreak in Wikipedia:Hamburg, hospital ward]] Outbreaks in North America in 1866–1873 killed some 50,000 Americans.[22] In 1866, localized epidemics occurred in the East End of London,[31][10] in southern Wikipedia:Wales, and Wikipedia:Amsterdam. In the 1870s, cholera spread in the U.S. as an epidemic from New Orleans along the Mississippi River and to ports on its tributaries.

In the Wikipedia:fifth cholera pandemic (1881–1896), according to Dr A. J. Wall, the 1883–1887 part of the epidemic cost 250,000 lives in Europe and at least 50,000 in the Americas. Cholera claimed 267,890 lives in Russia (1892);[32] 120,000 in Wikipedia:Spain;[33] 90,000 in Wikipedia:Japan and over 60,000 in Persia.[32] In Wikipedia:Egypt, cholera claimed more than 58,000 lives. The 1892 outbreak in Wikipedia:Hamburg killed 8,600 people.

More than 500,000 people died of cholera during the first quarter of the 20th century[34] and the Wikipedia:Ottoman Empire were particularly hard hit by cholera deaths. The 1902–1904 cholera epidemic claimed 200,000 lives in the Wikipedia:Philippines.[35] Twenty-seven epidemics were recorded during pilgrimages to Wikipedia:Mecca from the 19th century to 1930, and more than 20,000 pilgrims died of cholera during the 1907–08 Wikipedia:hajj.[34] The sixth pandemic killed more than 800,000 in Wikipedia:India. The last outbreak in the United States was in 1910–1911, when the steamship Moltke brought infected people from Naples to New York City. Vigilant health authorities isolated the infected on Wikipedia:Swinburne Island. Eleven people died, including a health care worker on the island.[36][37][38]


[[Wikipedia:File:The cow pock.jpg|thumb|200px|An 1802 cartoon of Wikipedia:Edward Jenner's cowpox-derived smallpox vaccine]]

Main article: Wikipedia:History of smallpox

Smallpox is caused by either of the two viruses, Variola major and Variola minor. Smallpox vaccine was available in Europe, the United States, and the Spanish Colonies during the last part of the century.[1][2] The Latin names of this disease are Variola Vera. The words come from varius (spotted) or varus (pimple). In England this disease was first known as the ‘pox’ or the ‘red plague’. Smallpox settles itself in small blood vessels of the skin and in the mouth and throat. The symptoms of smallpox are rash on the skin and blisters filled with raised liquid.

The disease killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans annually during the 19th century and one third of all the blindness of that time was caused by smallpox. 20 to 60% of all the people that were infected died and 80% of all the children with the infection also died. It caused also many deaths in the 20th century, over 300-500 million. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also had Smallpox when he was only 11 years old. He survived the smallpox outbreak in Austria.

thumb|100px|Yellow Fever virus


Main article: Wikipedia:Typhus#19th century

Wikipedia:Epidemic typhus is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia Prowazekii; it comes from Wikipedia:lice. Wikipedia:Murine Typhus is caused by the Rickettsia Typhi bacteria, from the Wikipedia:fleas on rats. Wikipedia:Scrub Typhus is caused by the Orientia Tsutsugamushi bacteria, from the Wikipedia:harvest mites on humans and rodents. Wikipedia:Queensland tick typhus is caused by the Rickettsia Australis bacteria, from Wikipedia:ticks.

During Wikipedia:Napoleon's retreat from Wikipedia:Moscow in 1812, more French soldiers died of typhus than were killed by the Wikipedia:Russians.[39] A major epidemic occurred in Wikipedia:Ireland between 1816 and 1819, during the Wikipedia:Year Without a Summer; an estimated 100,000 Irish perished. Typhus appeared again in the late 1830s, and between 1846 and 1849 during the Wikipedia:Great Irish Famine. Spreading to England, and called "Irish fever", it was noted for its virulence. It killed people of all social classes, as lice were endemic and inescapable, but it hit particularly hard in the lower or "unwashed" social strata. In Canada alone, the Wikipedia:typhus epidemic of 1847 killed more than 20,000 people from 1847 to 1848, mainly Irish immigrants in Wikipedia:fever sheds and other forms of quarantine, who had contracted the disease aboard Wikipedia:coffin ships.[40] In the Wikipedia:United States, sepidemics occurred in Baltimore, Memphis and Wikipedia:Washington DC between 1865 and 1873, and during the Wikipedia:US Civil War.

Yellow feverEdit

Main article: Wikipedia:History of yellow fever

This disease is transmitted by the bite of female mosquitos; the higher prevalence of transmission by Wikipedia:Aedes aegypti has led to it being known as the Yellow Fever Mosquito. The transmission of yellow fever is entirely a matter of available habitat for Wikipedia:vector mosquitos and prevention such as mosquito netting. They mostly infect other primates, but humans can be infected. The symptoms of the fever are: Headaches, back and muscle pain, chills and vomiting, bleeding in the eyes and mouth, and vomit containing blood.

Yellow fever accounted for the largest number of the 19th century's individual epidemic outbreaks, and most of the recorded serious outbreaks of yellow fever occurred in the 19th C. It is most prevalent in tropical-like climates, but the United States was not exempted from the fever.[41] Wikipedia:New Orleans was plagued with major epidemics during the nineteenth century, most notably in 1833 and 1853. At least 25 major outbreaks took place in the Americas during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including particularly serious ones in Wikipedia:Santo Domingo in 1803[42][43] and Wikipedia:Memphis in 1878.[44] Major outbreaks occurred repeatedly in Wikipedia:Gibraltar; outbreaks in 1804, 1814, and again in 1828.[45] Wikipedia:Barcelona suffered the loss of several thousand citizens during an outbreak in 1821. Urban epidemics continued in the United States until 1905, with the last outbreak affecting Wikipedia:New Orleans.[46]

Citations Edit

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  15. Asiatic Cholera Pandemic of 1826-37
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  17. 17.0 17.1 Asiatic Cholera Pandemic of 1846-63. UCLA School of Public Health.
  18. Cholera's seven pandemics,, December 2, 2008.
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  24. Kaoru Sugihara, Peter Robb, Haruka Yanagisawa, Local Agrarian Societies in Colonial India: Japanese Pperspectives, (1996), p. 313.
  25. Chicago Daily Tribune, 12 July 1854
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  28. Eastern European Plagues and Epidemics 1300-1918.
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  30. Vibrio Cholerae and Cholera - The History and Global Impact.
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  43. Marr, J. S., & Cathey, J. T. (n.d.). The 1802 Saint-Domingue yellow fever epidemic and the Louisiana Purchase. Journal of public health management and practice : JPHMP, 19(1), 77–82. doi:10.1097/PHH.0b013e318252eea8
  44. Khaled J. Bloom, The Mississippi Valley's Great Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878, Louisiana State U. Press, 1993
  45. "Gibraltar's 1804 Yellow Fever Scourge: The Search for Scapegoats". Oxford Journals—Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
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