Treatment and Therapy of Cholera

Total Length: 400 words ( 1 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 3

Q1. Discuss the physicians changing perceptions of the nature of cholera, its treatment, and therapy in 1832, 1849, and 1866. How did these factors change? Why?

Today, the general public and physicians alike are well aware of the need for proper sanitation in the public water system. But during the 19th century, knowledge about the spread of germs and disease was less widespread, and cholera, although widely accepted as a serious threat to public health, was still controversial in its ascribed origin. The hero of cholera research is John Snow, who, through the use of city mapping was able to trace an 1854 London epidemic to a single water pump and even was able to identify the microbe that had caused it, using an ordinary microscope. Such particles were not found in other pumps far away from the disease outbreak. Before Snow, such as during the 1832 epidemic, many physicians ascribed the spread of cholera to bad air, or miasma, rather than the water supply (Buczek).
In the United States, entire small Midwestern towns were voluntarily emptied, because of a fear of bad air in 1832 (Daly). Ministers proclaimed it a judgement by God (Daly). After Snowe’s work began to cross the Atlantic, however, during the 1849 outbreak, new sanitation measures were undertaken to limit the spread (Daly).

Still, during the 1849 epidemic, although more scientific measures of containment were undertaken, the fact that how the disease spread was uncertain enough to result in the bodies of those affected to be treated like primary vectors of disease, versus the water supply itself (Daly). In contrast, the 1867 epidemic was less severe; the Kansas Historical Quarterly reports that its victims were largely confined to that of the military. Physicians’ practices reflected the most contemporary knowledge of how to contain the spread and Snow’s now-accepted research, including disinfection of all surfaces that came into contact with sufferers and the burning of bedding and clothing (Power and Younger 389).


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Works Cited

Buczek, Monika. “Wells and Wellness Part I: The History of Cholera.” American Society for Microbiology. Web. 22 Oct 2018. i-the-history-of-cholera

Daly, Walter J. “The Black Cholera Comes to the Central Valley of America in the 19th Century- 1832, 1849, and
Later.” Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association 119 (2008): 143–153. Web. 22 Oct 2018.

Power, Ramon and Younger, Gene. “Cholera on the Plains: The Epidemic of 1867 in Kansas.” Kansas Historical Quarterly, 26. 1344(1971): 351-393. Web. 22 Oct 2018.

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