1817–1824 cholera pandemic

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First cholera pandemic.PNG
First cholera pandemic - Southeast Asia.PNG
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Carte indiquant la marche du choléra-morbus depuis l'Inde jusqu'en Europe, 1831 - btv1b84409876.jpg

1817–1824 Cholera Pandemic

The 1817–1824 cholera pandemic, also known as the first cholera pandemic or Asiatic cholera pandemic, was the first of seven cholera pandemics to occur over the 19th and 20th centuries. Originating in the Ganges Delta in the British Empire's territory of India, the pandemic spread across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America, marking the first time the disease, previously confined to the Indian subcontinent, had spread to other parts of the world on such a scale.

Origins and Spread[edit | edit source]

The exact origins of the cholera pathogen, Vibrio cholerae, during this pandemic are not well documented, but it is believed to have proliferated due to the combination of poor sanitation, crowded living conditions, and the presence of standing water, all of which are ideal conditions for the cholera bacterium. The pandemic began in 1817 near the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) and quickly spread throughout the Indian subcontinent. By 1818, it had reached modern-day Thailand, Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies), and the Philippines.

By 1820, the disease had spread to China and the Ottoman Empire, affecting regions as far west as Persia (modern-day Iran) and as far north as Syria and Russia. The pandemic reached Europe in 1823, affecting territories including Greece, which was then engaged in a war of independence against the Ottoman Empire.

Impact[edit | edit source]

The 1817–1824 cholera pandemic had a profound impact on public health and the understanding of disease transmission. It is estimated to have caused millions of deaths worldwide, though exact figures are difficult to ascertain due to the lack of reliable records from the period. The pandemic highlighted the need for improved sanitation and water supply in preventing disease, leading to public health reforms in many affected countries.

In addition to its immediate health impact, the pandemic also had significant social and economic effects. It led to widespread panic and the implementation of quarantine measures, some of which were effective in slowing the spread of the disease, while others had little impact.

Response and Legacy[edit | edit source]

The response to the cholera pandemic varied by region. In some areas, governments and local authorities implemented quarantine measures, travel restrictions, and improved sanitation efforts. However, these measures were often hampered by limited understanding of the disease's transmission. The pandemic spurred early research into cholera, laying the groundwork for the eventual discovery of its waterborne transmission by John Snow during the 1854 outbreak in London, which occurred during the third cholera pandemic.

The 1817–1824 pandemic marked the beginning of the global spread of cholera, a disease that would cause millions more deaths in subsequent pandemics. It underscored the importance of public health and sanitation measures in controlling infectious diseases, lessons that remain relevant in managing health crises today.

See Also[edit | edit source]


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD