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Happy Birthday John Snow

One of the pioneers in mapping epidemics was born two-hundred years ago today. In the second edition of On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, physician John Snow meticulously plotted water pumps and cholera cases in London in August and September 1854. The result was a revelatory map, illustrating that the disease was caused not by miasma in the air, as was generally thought, but by contaminated water. In the case of the 1854 outbreak, a pump on Broad (now Broadwick) Street proved to be ground-zero of an epidemic that killed some six hundred people.

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