Epidemics Of The 19th Century

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Epidemics of the 19th century were faced without the improved medical technologies that made the 20th and 21st-century epidemics rare and less lethal. It was in the 18th century that micro-organisms (viruses and bacteria) were discovered, but it was not until the late 19th century that the experiments of Lazzaro Spallanzani and Louis Pasteur disagreed with the spontaneous generation argument conclusively, crediting the germ theory and Robert Koch 's discovery of micro-organisms as the cause of disease transmission. Therefore, throughout the majority of the 19th century, there was only the most basic, understanding of the causes, amelioration and treatment of epidemic disease.

Creation of factories, which played a major role in mass production of goods, led to the rapid growth of towns. People, sensing the numerous job opportunities, flooded the towns from their different country sides. Towns quickly became overcrowded and did not have adequate social amenities to cater for their already large and growing population. Without important amenities such as proper drainage, clean living habitats due to the overcrowding and clean drinking water the 19th-century cities were sanctuaries for diseases such as typhoid, tuberculosis and cholera. It was during a cholera research outbreak in 1854 that London doctor John Snow produced his revolutionary work on disease transmission.

The widespread use of vaccines begun in the late 19th century. After a cholera bacterium was isolated by
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