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"MTG admires Snow's cholera researches but does not adopt his theory"

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Edited by Editors
Medical Times and Gazette
(5 July 1856): 15-16

[PDF from photocopy, courtesy of the Taubman Medical Library, University of Michigan.]

Impure Water a Source of Disease

In our last Number we briefly alluded to a Report lately presented to the President of the Board of Health by Mr. Simon, on the connexion between the last outbreak of epidemic cholera in London, and the consumption of impure water. We also took occasion to speak in terms of commendation of the laborious researches instituted and conducted by Dr. Snow, upon the influence of foul water in propagating disease. We must, however, again express the opinion to which we have, on former occasions, given utterance, that, while allowing all credit to this Physician for the patience, perseverance, and skill with which he has carried out his investigations, we are by no means prepared to adopt the hypothetical views which he has broached in relation to the cause of epidemic cholera: still we fully admit the connexion existing between impure water-supply and the existence of epidemic disease; and although we have at present no theory to offer in explanation, yet we think that the subject, in its practical bearing, deserves the closest attention of the Medical Profession, and of the Legislature.

. . . . Mr. Simon has gathered together the information supplied by others (and among the chief of his informants is, we believe, Dr. Snow), and he has been enabled to develope [sic] results which are certainly of a very startling and most suggestive character.

[The editors then summarize the results reported in Simon's report in three paragraphs, concluding with the following sentence:] These results, although they appear very striking, and are very ingeniously explained by Mr. Simon, require, we think, further explanation and corroboration from other data; nor can we altogether agree to the proposition, that the different rate of mortality at the two great cholera epochs [the report compares the 1848-49 and 1853-54 epidemics] is wholly to be explained by reference to the water-supply.

There can, we think, be little doubt that the poisonous matter which generates epidemic disease exists in the air we breathe and in the water we drink; . . . .

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