The arrival of cholera on European shores in the 19th Century helped kick off the long path towards modern global health institutions and diplomacy. However, these beginnings were anything but fair.
In the absence of good vaccines, doctors treating epidemic diseases must rely on cumbersome PPE as their one safety net. At least modern hazmat suits, unlike the 17th century plague doctor's all-leather outfit, actually work.
The narrative of the Broad Street pump is the story of a vital epidemiological discovery; it’s also a story about discovery: it has the tidy, conclusive quality of a fable about science. But in the years after its discovery, John Snow’s theory of water-borne disease had to overcome a familiar enemy of good public health: politics.
As World War I reached its climax, a terrible influenza pandemic broke out. By summer 1919, it had claimed many more lives than the conflict – but the conflict, researchers say, helped create the conditions for the devastating spread of the so-called “Spanish Flu”.
Before 1955, when a vaccine first made polio a preventable illness, the paralysing disease had to be treated. For many, the best option was the iron lung, a device that came to symbolise an era of anxiety in mid-20th century America.
Mary Mallon was branded a public menace and incarcerated after typhoid outbreaks across New York City were linked to her presence in the kitchen. Was she unfairly demonised?
With millions of COVID-19 vaccines now being delivered around the world, they are utilising a huge hidden infrastructure, built up over decades and spreading across the globe, with one ultimate goal: keeping the vaccines cool. How did these vaccine “cold chains” evolve, and why are they so important?
At the turn of the 20th Century, US researchers in Cuba made the historic discovery that mosquitoes spread yellow fever. The finding was not only a medical breakthrough; it would also make possible one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering.
In 1793, with the United States of America less than 20 years old, a yellow fever epidemic decimates the capital city, Philadelphia, and shines a spotlight on stark racial and social inequalities.
As the Spanish flu of 1918-1920 tore through America, a San Francisco mayor bet on the potential of face masks to contain the spread. Then, like today, the demand to mask up met resistance that blended distrust, ideology and gut feeling.