Who was the real John Snow?

| David Lewis | Health

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With all due respect to the true heir of the Iron Throne, the real John Snow was the scientist who achieved a great scientific breakthrough – he found out that we better not shit where we eat… or drink! 

Yap, this back then new and exciting revelation made him the father of modern epidemiology. 

Snow (1913-1958) lived in a time when cholera outbreaks were prevalent in the United Kingdom and were its top killer. Snow challenged the then-dominant Miasma Theory that suggested that cholera is caused by a noxious form of ‘bad air’. 

His observation and scrutiny of evidence led him to deduce that the main source of the cholera epidemic was the foul water supply.

Cholera is, by large, circulated when an infected person’s feces contaminated food or drinking water. Yes, that is why mom always insists we wash our hands before we eat. Apparently she read all of Snow’s studies.

Bonus Fact: even to date cholera claims 120,000 lives every year. Throughout history, it is responsible for at least tens-of-millions of deaths, probably much more.

The Real John snow (1813 –1858)
The Real John snow (1813 –1858)

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And for all of you cholera-enthusiasts, here are some more facts: 

Cholera is a contagious infectious disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera and manifests in severe and multiple diarrhea, sometimes to the point of dehydration and death. The global spread of the disease is high, especially in areas with poor sanitation or disaster-stricken areas, reaching epidemic proportions. The bacterium damages the digestive system and causes a rapid loss of up to a liter of fluid per hour. 50% of untreated patients die from the disease.

 

Its ground zero is most likely India. Indeed, initial descriptions of a cholera-like disease appear in ancient Sanskrit (Indian) writings, and it is widely believed that cholera has been in the deltas of the Ganges River in India for hundreds of years, after developing there following the river’s pollution.

 

Later, the disease has spread along offshore trade routes outside India, with several outbreaks of huge cholera epidemics in various parts of the world. 

From the 19th century to the second decade of the 21st century, seven global cholera epidemics originated in the Indian subcontinent, in addition to some local outbreaks.

And for all of you cholera-enthusiasts, here are some more facts: 

Cholera is a contagious infectious disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera and manifests in severe and multiple diarrhea, sometimes to the point of dehydration and death. The global spread of the disease is high, especially in areas with poor sanitation or disaster-stricken areas, reaching epidemic proportions. The bacterium damages the digestive system and causes a rapid loss of up to a liter of fluid per hour. 50% of untreated patients die from the disease.

 

Its ground zero is most likely India. Indeed, initial descriptions of a cholera-like disease appear in ancient Sanskrit (Indian) writings, and it is widely believed that cholera has been in the deltas of the Ganges River in India for hundreds of years, after developing there following the river’s pollution.

 

Later, the disease has spread along offshore trade routes outside India, with several outbreaks of huge cholera epidemics in various parts of the world. 

From the 19th century to the second decade of the 21st century, seven global cholera epidemics originated in the Indian subcontinent, in addition to some local outbreaks.