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What did people die of in the 19th Century?

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What did people die of in the 19th Century? At the beginning of the 19th century a population census was performed and later, in 1837, it became law that all births and deaths were registered. "Medical officers of health" kept the records and each local administration employed one. They forwarded their findings to the government each year. This meant that every time a person died we would be able to learn key information about their death; cause, age of victim and gender. This is great for historians because it allows us to see exactly what was happening at the time, for example, if a certain disease was a greater killer then another. ...read more.


TB affected 15% of the population in the 19th century. Typhoid was another disease that attacked all ages; it was introduced into people when they came into contact with excreta (urine, faeces, and sweat) from a human. Smallpox had been a major killer of all ages but by 1850 it was gradually being eliminated through vaccination. This shows the work of an INDIVIDUAL, Edward Jenner who created the smallpox vaccine, because he was the success story of eradicating smallpox. In 1840 the vaccine was made free for infants and compulsory in 1853. Measles was attacking children, some overcame the disease but often it could develop into a more serious problem, like pneumonia, severe diarrhoea or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). ...read more.


However, in the late 19th century, 1875, the second Public Health Act was passed and this was much more effective then the first because it forced local councils to act on public health. The Artisans' Dwellings Act was also passed and this enforced purchase of slum housing and rebuilding to better living standards by local councils (unfortunately the act was seldom used). People were also becoming more aware and through OBSERVATION learnt how to overcome certain illnesses. For example, the connection between contaminated water and cholera was discovered by John Snow, in 1854. He noticed that all the victims of a cholera outbreak in London used the same water pump so he decided to remove the pump handle to see if it had any affect - the outbreak ended. ...read more.

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