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 Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders
28.06.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

New photoacoustic technique detects gases at parts-per-quadrillion level

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Funding of Collaborative Research Center developing nanomaterials for cancer immunotherapy extended

28.06.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>