Contagism V. Anti Contagism Essay

2272 words - 10 pages

The conventional understanding of microbiology and germ theory had many foundations built upon trial and error and experimentation. The initial concepts proposed before the new public health movement focused on the environmental factors as a causation of infectious disease. However, environmental factors could not account for all cases of disease. Conversely, contagionism focused on the person to person transmission of disease rather than the human environment. Modern germ theory arose from contagionist believe that microorganisms enter the body multiplied, caused disease, and that a specific microorganism caused a specific disease. Public health administration dealt with disease ...view middle of the document...

During the 19th century, increasing industrialization and urbanization pooled populations in major cities. Many cities could not keep up with the demand for additional municipal services such as garbage disposal and sewer systems. This created an ideal formula for infectious diseases such as to grow. Although the microorganisms had been observed through instruments centuries before, contagion factors were largely ignored by the scientific community in favor of a more noticeable reasons. Disease ran rampant among the people of small towns and villages in western society. The only thing that could seemingly account for the infections were shared characteristics among the human environments where the disease was observed. Specifically they shared substandard living conditions: dead animals, rotting vegetation, street garbage, open sewers, unsafe drinking water. As a result of scientist hypothesized direct causal relationships between these conditions and the outbreak of infectious disease.
The miasma theory of disease was a long held believe among medical practioneers that disease such as cholera, typhoid, and typhus, came from an infectious mist. Prominent during the Middle Ages, miamist believed that during times of rapid urbanization, these vapors came from the filth from towns and the best way to contain such disease was to simply clean the streets of sewer waste, dead animals and garbage.
The miasma theory was very appealing to English sanitary reformers. It explained why diseases were epidemic in the un-drained, filthy and stinking areas inhabited by the poor. With the Public Health Act of 1875(UK) the existence of miasmas was central to the prevailing attitude of the new public health movement, focusing attention on environmental problems rather than on those of personal health and infection. Proponents of the miasma theory felt that cholera was one such condition caused by noxious odors of decayed matter. For example, during the London cholera epidemic, the London Metropolitan Commission ordered the flushing of the sewers in order to dissipate the miasma that was thought to cause cholera. This move actually worsens the crisis by contaminating the Thames River, a principle water supply at the time. The filth theory of disease, a Victorian caveat, was derivative of the miasma theory that focused on separating human beings from anything the upper class felt distasteful including the smell of human waste. This theory emerged because disease often were caused by what the Victorians considered filth, lice carry typhus, contaminated water spread typhoid and cholera, rats through their fleas spread plague(Barry. “The great influenza”, p50). The filth theory, could not however, account for how disease spread from person to person without existing “filth” conditions. The upper class drove sanitary reforms in 19th century England for fear of lower class upheaval as a result of disease out breaks. Public Health Act 1848, created a General...

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