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"The mode of propagation of cholera"

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(16 February 1856): 184

To the Editor of the Lancet

Sir,--I did not, until to-day, read the important and interesting Address of Sir J. K. Shuttleworth, Bart., in the Lancet of the 2nd instant. I find that he alludes in complimentary terms to my conclusions regarding the propagation of cholera, as modified by a suggestion of Drs. Thiersch and Pettenkofer, but he erroneously attributes these views, so modified, to Dr. W. Budd. Dr. Alison fell into this mistake, which was afterwards rectified in the journal in which it appeared—-the Edinburgh Medical Journal; and I suspect that it is Dr. Alison's mistake which has misled Sir J. K. Shuttleworth. A few weeks after the first edition of my essay on Cholera appeared, in 1849, Dr. W. Budd published a pamphlet on the subject, in which adopted my views, and made a full and handsome acknowledgement of my priority. In the latter part of 1854 he also published some interesting facts in support of these views, and afterwards gave a qualified adhesion to the opinion of Drs. Thiersch and Pettenkofer, that some kind of change or fermentation is necessary in the peculiar excretions of cholera, to enable them to propagate the disease. This is a modification of my original views which I, however, see no reason to adopt. In one or two of his papers Dr. W. Budd advocated the propagation of cholera through the air, by means of the excretions, to a greater extent than I am inclined to admit, but with this and the before mentioned exception, his opinions respecting the pathology and mode of communication of cholera, as expressed in those papers, are exactly those which I first published in 1849, and have since maintained in several papers before the Medical Societies, and in a second edition.

I have not made the above remarks in the way of complaint; but as my researches respecting cholera were conducted with great labour, and very much to the detriment of my more immediate interests, I feel it a duty not to allow the credit of them to pass from me by a mere mistake.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

John Snow, M.D.

Sackville-street, Feb. 1856.

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