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John Snow

Health and the People>Improvements in Public Health>John Snow

What do we know about Snow?

  • Dates: 1813 – 1858
  • Place of Birth: York
  • Background & Education: Son of a labourer, Graduated from University of London, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Royal College of Physicians.
  • Career: Apprentice in Newcastle upon Tyne and North East before moving to London and eventually rising to pre-eminence with research on cholera in Soho, London.
  • Famous Publications: On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, 1849 & 1855.

Contribution to Medicine

  • He studied a cholera outbreak on the Broad Street area of Soho, London and noticed that the victims all used the same water pump. He removed the handle from the pump, ending the outbreak.
  • John Snow showed that there was a connection between contaminated water and cholera in 1853.
  • Snow’s work received little attention at first. Most people still believed diseases were spread by miasma.
  • Despite the work of Chadwick and Snow, public health didn’t improve, and cholera returned to Britain in 1865.

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