Dr John Snow (1813-1858)

Webhttp://www.johnsnowsociety.org http://www.ph.ucla.edu/EPI/snow.html

[John Snow first discovered the cause of typhoid when he linked it to a well in Soho, London 1854.  He beat William Budd to the water theory of transmission of cholera by only 10 days. However, although Budd's thesis was based on more thorough surveys of rural outbreaks, he made the mistake of proposing a fungal cause.  In 1849, John Snow published the first edition of his best-known work On the mode of communication of cholera. It cost him 200 to produce but his income was only 3.12s.  Journals dismissed Snow's book. "There is, in our view, an entire failure of proof that the occurrence of any one case could be clearly and unambiguously assigned to water". The reviewer later concludes, "Notwithstanding our opinion that Dr Snow has failed in proving that cholera is communicated in the mode in which he supposes it to be, he deserves the thanks of the profession for endeavouring to solve the mystery. It is only by close analysis of facts and the publication of new views, that we can hope to arrive at the truth". (London Medical Gazette, 1849) 1.]

It was common at the time to have a cesspit under most homes. Most families tried to have their raw sewage collected and dumped in the Thames to prevent their cesspit from filling faster than the sewage could decompose into the soil.  After the cholera epidemic had subsided, government officials replaced the Broad Street Handle Pump. They had responded only to the urgent threat posed to the population, and afterwards they rejected Snow's theory. To accept his proposal would be indirectly accepting the oral-fecal method transmission of disease, which was too unpleasant for most of the public. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Snow_(physician)