The delightfully well-written and stimulating blog Cocktail Party Physics provides a history lesson about cholera epidemics and, along the way, highlights the account of an 1868 cholera epidemic in Buenos Aires as described by one Charles Darbyshire.
Darbyshire’s fears proved well-founded when an epidemic broke out in the summer of 1868, brought about (he believed) by Brazilian ships tossing the bodies of those who had died from cholera into the River Parana, thereby contaminating the water supply. People in the cities fled to the countryside, bringing the disease with them, and Darbyshire soon found himself in the position of a public health leader, advising his neighbors on removing themselves from unsanitary conditions, not drinking water unless it was boiled, burying all refuse, keeping floors and patios clean. The 12 people in his own household did not contract the disease, which probably lent credence to his his advice. Despite all the deaths, there was one positive outcome: the Argentine government overhauled the city’s drainage system and installed a proper water supply.
Read the full post at Cocktail Party Physics.