Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dysentery epidemic killed many in the 1700s-1800s

25.10.2012
In the 1700s-1800s, dysentery was a disease causing many deaths. In fact, in some areas in Sweden 90 percent of all deaths were due to dysentery during the worst outbreaks.

A new doctoral thesis in history from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, presents demographic and medical history of the disease.

Dysentery, or rödsot as it used to be called in Swedish, remains a major problem in developing countries. In the Western world, however, the disease is almost gone. Yet prior to the decline in infectious diseases among causes of death in the 1800s, Sweden was at times struck very hard by the disease, with catastrophic consequences.

‘The disease had detrimental effects, but the geographical differences were significant. For example, 90 percent of all deaths in a parish could be due to dysentery in some years, while nearby parishes were left practically unaffected,’ says the author of the thesis, Helene Castenbrandt.

Castenbrandt studied how the disease struck Sweden during the period 1750-1900, with a focus on changes over time as well as regional and local differences. Jönköping County was used as a case study. Besides demographic data, she also used parish registers, maps, newspapers, reports from medical district officers and other information written down by doctors.

Many historians have described dysentery as a regularly recurring and not very serious disease. Cholera and smallpox are often described as the most devastating epidemic diseases of that era. But Castenbrandt’s results beg to differ.

‘My study points to dysentery as very epidemic in nature. The disease struck communities extremely hard at times. It flared up quite irregularly and the patterns of transmission differed from one outbreak to the next.’

Using Jönköping County as an example, the study clearly shows the vast differences in dysentery mortality within the same county. The pattern of transmission for the three most severe outbreaks in 1773, 1808 and 1857 shows that although the disease spread across almost the entire county, there were some clusters with extremely high mortality. However, the hardest hit parts of the county varied.

The thesis also analyses the reasons behind the presence and disappearance of the disease. The results point to complex links between possible explanations such as sanitary conditions and population concentrations for example in connection with wars.

‘It is likely that many factors interacted, which makes it difficult to identify one single reason why dysentery emerged and disappeared. I hope future studies will be able to explore these links,’ says Castenbrandt.

For more information please contact Helene Castenbrandt,
tel. + 46 (0)73 693 22 59,
e-mail helene.castenbrandt@history.gu.se
An e-version of the thesis is available at http://hdl.handle.net/2077/30195

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://www.gu.se

Further reports about: Dysentery epidemic dysentery worst outbreaks

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope
23.10.2017 | University at Buffalo

nachricht Scientists track ovarian cancers to site of origin: Fallopian tubes
23.10.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>