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Sunday, 6 April 2014

The 1824-1835 Cholera Epidemic

In the first half of the nineteenth century there were several major outbreaks of cholera. A severely infectious disease of the intestinal tract, which was in the main caused by contaminated drinking water, it typically occurred wherever there was an improper disposal of sewage.

In 1824 an epidemic of cholera spread from India and Southeast Asia to China in the east, and from Persia to Egypt and Russia and later Europe in the west. In 1831 it entered the English North Sea port of Sunderland resulting in Britain’s first cholera epidemic. The next year it crossed the Atlantic and appeared first in Chicago before spreading south into the Mississippi Valley. Simultaneously it also emerged in New York and Boston from which it spread south and west. Many American urban centers suffered numerous losses including the death during one twelve-day period of over 6,000  in New Orleans. By 1835 the whole of the United States was affected by the epidemic.

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