The Epidemic Streets: Infectious Disease and the Rise of Preventive Medicine, 1856-1900

Synopsis

The Epidemic Streets represents a major advance in the historical study of death and disease in the nineteenth century. Anne Hardy has drawn on a wide range of public health records for a detailed epidemiological investigation of the behaviour of the infectious diseases in the Victorian city. Whooping cough and measles, scarlet fever and diptheria, smallpox, typhus, typhoid, and tuberculosis ravaged millions of families and made life desperately uncertain a hundred years ago; today they have almost ceased to trouble the developed world. Dr Hardy explores thefactors which helped to reduce their fatality, focusing particularly on the role of preventive medicine, and on the local and domestic circumstances which affected the behaviour of the different diseases. This is a significant contribution to the historical debate that arose from Thomas McKeown's theory ofmodern population growth, and it also extends our understanding of the ways in which Victorian society - both lay and medical - coped with the problems of endemic and epidemic infectious disease.