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The Cholera Epidemic that Transformed Modern Society

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It is 1854 and London’s Cholera epidemic is in full swing and the city is overwhelmed with sick and dying people and no one knows how to cure or stop the disease. People are densely packed together. Being the largest city in the world London had > two million people living in 30 square miles and no sewage system or proper garbage removal to speak of. Water is taken from shared wells in unregulated spots.

Scientists are telling the public that Cholera is being spread by bad air. People begin wearing sweat smelling products and using other dubious remedies. But two men Reverend Henry Whitehead, and Dr. John Snow know this is not true. They have the theory that people are catching the illness because of inflected water. However, public authorities in London and other scientists do not agree with their assessment. So the two men set out to map the spread of the disease carefully noting the proximity of death to wells.

Their findings changed the ways we think about cities and sanitation. Join us for a page turning adventure about how these two men finally won the battle against the worst cholera epidemic to hit Victorian London and how that changed cities, scientific inquiry and the modern world.

The Big Bang Book Club meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month. This month we meet on the 23rd at Grumpy’s Bar, Downtown Mpls, at 7:00. Enjoy an engaging discussion with a beer. All are welcome even if you don’t get a chance to read the book. Just an interest in epidemiology or Victorian London is needed.

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