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John Snow (Physician)
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Doctor
    (March 15, 1813-June 16, 1858)
    Born in York, England, United Kingdom
    General practitioner and surgeon
    Early proponent of the use of anesthesia
    Traced the source of a cholera outbreak in the Soho district of London to a specific water pump on Broad Street (1854)
    Considered the father of epidemiology
    He was a vegan and teetotaler until he began suffering renal disease that he attributed to his diet, after which began consuming meat and wine.
    His advocacy of anesthesia during childbirth was opposed by conservative clergymen and doctors, who argued that it thwarted God’s will. (Since God told Eve post-apple, ‘In pain you will bring forth children.’)
    He is often said to have stopped the 1854 cholera outbreak by convincing the local council to disable the Broad Street pump, but he noted that by that time, deaths from cholera were already dropping rapidly.
    His microscopic analysis of the water from the Broad Street pump failed to find the causative agent, making it easier for proponents of the then-dominant ‘miasma’ (bad air) theory of disease to ignore the role contaminated water played in spreading diseases.
    He personally administered chloroform to Queen Victoria during the births of her children Leopold (1853) and Beatrice (1857).
    He recommended that anesthesia be administered by a specialist and not by the surgeon performing the operation.
    He found that all but ten of the victims of the 1854 cholera outbreak lived in houses that were closer to the Broad Street pump than any other water source.
    Of the ten remaining victims, three were children who attended a school near the Broad Street pump. In five other cases, interviews with families of the deceased indicated that they preferred water from the Broad Street pump over closer sources.
    He showed that homes supplied by the Southwark and Vauxhall Waterworks, which took their water from a section of the Thames River in London heavily polluted with sewage, had cholera rates fourteen times higher than those supplied by the Lambeth Waterworks, which drew its water from a cleaner portion of the Thames, upriver from London.

Credit: C. Fishel


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