In the 19th century, Cholera was a mysterious disease that led to the deaths of countless people. Medical experts at that time believed it was caused due to a miasma and there was no cure to it. But there was one man who broke this superstition, this man was John Snow. All the medical experts continuously told him, “You know nothing John Snow”, but he persisted. His battle against cholera is quite interesting.
Born in 1813, John Snow had a very curious mind ever since he was young. His father was a coal tar worker but seeing his intellectually active mind, his mother used her savings to send him to school. When he was 14, he became an apprentice of a doctor in Newcastle, this is where he first met his lifelong enemy-cholera. At the age of 18, Snow was sent to treat the coal tar workers who were down with Cholera.
Now Cholera was quite a dangerous disease, once infected, a person suffered from severe diarrhea and vomited continuously. A person could be fine in the morning and become a husk by night and die the next day. John tried all the techniques he knew, but nothing worked. He noticed giving water to the patients alleviated the symptoms for a while, but the patients still died. John noticed that the swamps (that released miasma) were far away from the coal tar mines, then what was it that caused Cholera? He tried to tell other doctors that it was something in the water that transmitted from person to person caused Cholera, not miasma. They told him, “You know nothing, John Snow”. He continued his practice and in 1938, he joined the Royal College of Surgeons.
Something that was the top for doctors at that time. He did a serious study on anesthesia, his work was revolutionary, he even got to anesthetize the queen herself. In all this time, he had never forgotten Cholera, then in 1835, cholera attacked London. John went full Sherlock Holmes; he investigated each house that had a cholera victim focusing on the water he drank. He actually invented the first methods of collecting statistical data, he found that Cholera patients were concentrated near the pumps, especially the broad street pump. He found out that those who had a private water pump were not affected by the disease. He showed his data to the local health commission with all of his vigor and data and in the end, they all said, “You might know something, John Snow”. They closed the handpumps the next day but most people still didn’t believe John. A committee was formed to look into the causes and finally, they found out that an infant (the patient zero) had died right before the start of the cholera outbreak. She died in 4 days, when her mother was questioned, she said she had tossed the child’s diaper into the cesspool at the bottom of the house. The committee authorized an investigation into the cesspit and they found out that the cesspool leaked into the underground water from where the pumps drew water. The case was solved. They composed a report that changed then the world.
John Snow from then would forever be known as one of the founders of modern epidemiology. His findings led to an improvement in hygiene all over the world and fundamental changes in the sewer systems. His work saved millions.