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John Snow and William Farr Cholera Studies Essay

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Updated: Mar 11th, 2022

The document is about the contributions of John Snow and William Farr in the study of cholera. John Snow is perceived as a father of epidemiology as he unravelled enigma about the disease. In addition, he formed basis for the study and understanding of the diseases. In this research, Snow found out that unlike other communicable diseases, whose general symptoms include high temperature and was believed that the causal organism was found in the blood, Cholera symptoms started with pain in the muscles of the abdomen. As a result, this indicated that the poison was acting locally on the intestinal lining. This resulted in the production of some effects such as emesis, diarrhoea and desiccation which were the main symptoms of cholera. Moreover, due to the fact that cholera responded to some medication like opium and catechu, which were taken orally in the early stage of the infection, it was an indication that the disease was as result of gut infection (Dallal, 2000, p.4-6). Out of this, Snow found out that the disease causal organism had to be taken through the mouth for it to cause an infection in the stomach. This indicated that excrete from an infected person may be containing the disease causing organisms ingested in the body.

By comparing cholera and other communicable diseases, Snow believed that the poison which was later indentified to be a bacteria called vibrio cholera, multiplied in the stomach and the amount given out was in a large number than the one ingested. He concluded that, this communicable disease was passed on when a person ingested food or water containing the poisonous substances from an infected person (Wolf, n.d, par. 4). In the study concerning the prevalence and spread of cholera, Snow had his trust in two types of evidence. One of the evidence depended on the findings gotten from an outbreak analysis, whereby, he was able to make gastro intestinal track plausible. He found out that in many streets water was contaminated through leakage from open drain and the surface runoff, and from this he was able to show that most people who died of cholera are those who consumed faecal contaminated water in their living area (Wudka, 1998, par. 5).

Snow’s second type of evidence depended on comparing cholera death rate in a population which had water supply system with varying level of sewage contamination. In this, Snow encountered several problems, which included mixed supply of water, and the difficult to trace the source of water in the houses where deaths had been recorded as a result of cholera (Morabia, 2001, p. 223-224). In addition, areas where water was being supplied by companies, some families did not know the name of the company that supplied them with the water. Due to the above mentioned reasons, he decided to carry out chemical test, though it was not successful since he realised that brininess of the river water valid over time. Snow later concluded that cholera was caused mostly by contaminated water and food taken orally (Eyler, 2001, p.227).

In Snow’s area of work, many people did not pay attention to his studies apart from one person named William Farr. William Farr was a statistical superintendent of the general registrar office, and a member of the committee of scientific inquiries in the year 1854. Farr dedicated most of his time in learning about the study of cholera, whereby, he found out that cholera was a geographic concentrated disease. He published a table that awaked Snow on investigation in the water supply and they collaborated in the investigation. Farr summarised the study by incorporating contaminated water to be one of the causes of cholera infection among other causes

Reference List

Dallal, J. (2000). . Web.

Eyler, M. (2001). The Changing Assessments of John Snow’s and William Farr’s Cholera Studies. Soz Preventive Med 2001:46 (4): 225-232. Web.

Morabia, A. (2001). Snow and Farr: A Scientific Duet. Soz Preventive Med 2001:46 (4): 223-224. Web.

Wolf, S. (n.d.). Introduction to the Scientific Method. 2010, Web.

Wudka, J. (1998). The Scientific Method. Web.

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