Thursday, September 13, 2007

Public Health 101

London is one of the birthplaces of public health practice. In 1854, there was a cholera epidemic in London. At that time, the cause of cholera was unknown. Dr. John Snow mapped each casualty of cholera on a street map, and deduced that many of the victims got their water from the same water pump on Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) in Soho. While most people thought his theory was absurd, he felt so strongly about it that he removed the pump handle. The cholera epidemic in the neighborhood ended shortly thereafter. The handleless pump in the first picture is a re-creation.
In 1854, water was drawn directly from the River Thames for use in drinking, cooking, and washing. Most people had access to water only through public pumps located around the city. Unfortunately, all the waste from the city was also dumped into the Thames, often just upstream of the water intake points.

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