Cholera Epidemic Epidemics have played an important role in modern European history.In particular, epidemic diseases have been a frequently repeated feature of human history up to the present day.A classic example of such a disease in Europe during the 1800s is cholera.
This disease caused profuse diarrhea, severe dehydration, collapse, and often death. As cholera travelled throughout towns and cities, it took advantage of overcrowded housing conditions, poor hygiene and insanitary water- supplies.
Studies suggested that these conditions might almost have been designed for it. Furthermore, cholera affected the poor more than the well-off and the rich due to lack of sanitary attention. This led to the Judgement of the poor and how people blamed them for causing the disease of cholera. However, when it spread to the middle classes, they needed to address a different cause for cholera. Cholera spread in a series of a waves or pandemics. The disease made isolated appearances in Europe and was regarded as the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century.
Still, three major questions are to be addressed about cholera. First, was the psychological and social impact of cholera powerful enough to enable he absolute numbers of people affected and was its impact minor compared to tuberculosis? Second, did cholera epidemics play a part in the major political disruptions of the nineteenth century? Thirdly, did people blame the state for outbreaks of cholera, and did this lead to any changes in state policy from country to country?
In terms of its spread, the cholera bacillus enters the body through the mouth and the digestive system. The subsequent symptoms include massive vomiting and diarrhea. Cholera was shocking to the nineteenth century; it was considered a disease that came from the “uncivilized” east. To address the first question, cholera seemed to affect healthy adults Just as much as, or even more than, it affected they young and old, the sickly and the weak.
Cholera affected the poor more than the rich, “and the widespread middle class view that the poor only had themselves to blame was hardly calculated to mollify the apprehensions of the poor. “l In addition, the “undeserving” poor were the most affected because the poor did not have access to clean water and sanitization while the well-off or the rich did. In turn, the poor could easily interpret the immunity of the bourgeoisie as evidence of unfairness on the art of the rich to reduce the burden of poverty by killing off the main victims.
Clear evidence of the social distribution of the disease is difficult to say, but the “distribution of cholera obviously to some extent reflected whether or not a local water-supply nad been contaminated… proximity to intected water was i tselt at least in part socially determined… “2 It was sad to see that the poor were blamed for the cause of the disease because it is unfair to the poor since they cannot afford to have better sanitization. Statistics suggested that while it could and did affect the well-off nd the rich, its impact on the poor was disproportionately high in most epidemics like cholera.
Because of their wealth, the rich could flee from outbreaks with ease and their occupations did not have to deal with contact with contaminated water and with their employment of servants. Moreover, their toilet facilities were maintained well. One could see the differential impact of cholera between the rich and the poor which worsened social tensions. The poor suffered because of overcrowding and poor sanitation, and because they could not employ servants to take necessary hygienic recautions. However, they are not the one to blame for the cause of the cholera epidemic.
According to Sir Edwin Chadwick, “various forms of epidemic, endemic, and other disease caused, or aggravated, or propagated chiefly amongst the laboring classes by atmospheric impurities produced by decomposing animal and vegetable substances, by damp and filth, and close and overcrowded dwellings prevail amongst the population… “3 However, there are solutions to the circumstances mentioned. The removal of drainage, proper cleansing, better ventilation, and alternative ways of ecreasing contamination can help people live a better sanitized life.
The main cause, however, is the defective supplies of water. If clean water could be supplied throughout the cities and towns, epidemics like cholera would not have to happen wiping out at least half of the victims. Such a simple request can make the place a better one. Additionally, Chadwick mentioned how the annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation are greater than the loss from death or wounds in any wars. I think that it is unfortunate that so many people die from grimy living conditions; if only the imple requests were Just to be granted, then it would be a win-win situation.
The expense of public drainage, of supplies of water laid on in houses, and improved cleansing would be a huge gain and it would ultimately decrease sickness. Chadwick makes a great point stating, “the removal of noxious physical circumstances, and the promotion of civic, household, and personal cleanliness, are necessary to the improvement of the moral condition of the population; for that sound morality and refinement in manners and health are not long found coexistent with filthy habits amongst any class of the community. Chadwick claims that these adverse conditions of the laboring class tends to produce adults who abandon all of life’s decencies and indulge in habits of degradation and demoralization. This statement is somewhat agreeable because I do believe that horrible living conditions and shortened life spans would lead many to migrate. However, it does not mean that it is inevitable because people from this background can choose to live morally if they want. To address the second question, there is little doubt that cholera epidemics tend to occur at moments ot crisis in European history.