Cholera: The Biography (Biographies of Diseases) by Christopher Hamlin

By Christopher Hamlin

Cholera is a daunting disorder. sufferers are wracked via abdominal cramps and undergo excessive diarrhoea. loss of life can come inside hours.Though now seeming a far off reminiscence in Europe, which suffered a number of epidemics within the nineteenth century prior to John Snow pointed out the hyperlink with water, cholera continues to be a major chance in lots of components of the world--Zimbabwe is a contemporary instance. Snow's discovery used to be one of many nice breakthroughs of epidemiology and an excellent tale from the heritage of technology. Later got here the invention of the wrongdoer organism--Cholera vibrio--understanding of its lifestyles cycle, and the advance of a vaccine. however the challenge of cholera has now not disappeared. This booklet tells the tale of cholera, and appears at either the scientific good fortune within the West, and the various attitudes to the ailment in nations during which it's normal instead of these within which it installed a short lived visual appeal. in contrast to different books on cholera, which concentrate on the adventure of specific nations, Christopher Hamlin's account attracts jointly the reviews from a variety of nations, either those who have been colonies and those who have been not.Cholera: the biography is a part of the Oxford sequence, Biographies of ailments, edited via William and Helen Bynum. In each one person quantity a professional historian or clinician tells the tale of a specific sickness or all through heritage - not just when it comes to growing to be scientific realizing of its nature and treatment, but in addition transferring social and cultural attitudes, and adjustments within the that means of the identify of the sickness itself.

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Extra info for Cholera: The Biography (Biographies of Diseases)

Sample text

By 1884 he had reluctantly admitted that there might be a cholera germ (“if it is preferred to use that expression”), but the phenomena of cholera were so various that it explained nothing. Macpherson’s two choleras were not the ones that later writers would distinguish: the real thing, caused by Vibrio cholerae O1, and the host of pretenders, anonymous gastroenteritises. The Asian cholera he could recognize after 1500 was distinct not in essence, but in virulence and epidemicity. Why was Indian cholera so much more terrible?

Send for the physician . . but ere the healer came, the violence of the malady was over; and he told me that I could do nothing better than follow up mine own prescription. As in Frankland’s case, it was not usually a severe disease, nor a spreading one. That shift in the years after 1817, from cholera as a transitory state of one’s constitution to cholera as a relentless and deadly invader, was neither quick nor unproblematic. At first, the similarities had seemed clear enough to warrant using the old term.

1 It could appear in various degrees of perfection. Pull works from the shelves of a late-eighteenth-century medical library: there will be mention, usually brief, of cholera in texts on practice. It was also dealt with in most family medical guides and in works of medical geography. But few publications were on cholera alone; it was not a disease of learned interest or a research frontier. Cholera was neither particularly common nor problematic. ”2 As this list hints, the learned term coexisted with other lay and professional designations.

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