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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A couple of things of interest related to the history of public health

Lexington's 1833 cholera epidemic chronicled in new book
The stricken died quickly, sometimes within hours.

Others hung on a few days, but they were so dehydrated they no longer looked like themselves, but rather like skin stretched taut over bones and tendons. Their brains still worked, even as their bodies died all around them.

People passed one another in the street without greeting, fearful that their friends and neighbors would contaminate them. Orphaned children wandered the streets, seeking food and shelter from strangers. Those with means fled to the countryside.

Ebola in 2014?

No. Cholera in Lexington — in summer 1833.

Terry Foody, a public health nurse who has lectured about cholera for the Kentucky Humanities Council for the past decade, has written a book about the 1833 epidemic in Lexington: The Pie Seller, The Drunk, and The Lady: Heroes of the 1833 Cholera Epidemic in Lexington, Kentucky (Self-published; $18.33).
Terry Foody is signing her book at the Woodford County Public Library, 115 North Main Street, Versailles, KY, from 1-4 pm on Saturday, November 1st. She did a signing recently at the Morris Book Shop, which is an independent bookseller here in Lexington. I'll check with them tomorrow to see if I can get a copy.

Also, today is the 100th anniversary of polio-vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk's birth. Google honoured him with a Doodle, but there was also this, which I think is dead on--with the restrictions we have today (many to protect research subjects) and with the anti-vaccine nuts out there, such a large double-blind trial (of 2,000,000 school children) would not happen today.

Jonas Salk's Polio Vaccine Trials Would Be Hard To Repeat Today

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