Thursday, 22 September 2011

Air, Imago or Poison? Possible Causes of the 1854 Cholera Outbreak in London


“Mr Chadwick, pray tell me your thoughts on this cholera outbreak, seemingly affecting the whole of London.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Williams; all smell is disease. The miasma which overpowers as you approach the riverside; this is indeed the cause of these symptoms which render so many ill or dead.”

This conversation remained in my mind for many a year afterwards. However some suspected there may be a lacuna present in this simplistic theory of synchronicity between smell and illness.

Mr Chadwick did suggest reforms leading to improvements in sanitation provisions across our city. These changes greatly reduced the incidences of cholera and other diseases. Yet the theory that one would only have to be in the vicinity of the Thames and not so much as touch the water was seemingly flawed.

I would sit through many lectures on the matter, trying to gain knowledge, while observing fellow scientists oscitate or even doze right off to sleep. Their manners were appalling!

I am almost ashamed to tell you it was eventually a French gentleman, Monsieur Louis Pasteur who finally proved Chadwick wrong. Pasteur proved that the cholera was transmitted by germs. What a clever chap.

200 words




This piece was written for a challege as part of the platform building campaign.  
Just thought I'd say that in case any of my regular readers think I have gone barking mad!

Thanks for reading x X x

44 comments:

  1. This has a proper British feel to it. It's very different from the other entries I've read and I love that it is.
    Great twist on the idea and excellent use of the words!

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  2. Rebecca I love how you approach this from a historical POV! Like K.T said..."proper British feel" and excellent use of the words! Great job!

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  3. Oh, love this! The poor Thames gets blamed for everything, it was recently in the news again giving people tummy bugs, lol.

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  4. Rebecca,
    This is one of my favorites! You captured the British 'feel' perfectly! The language of the dialogue made me 'read in proper English'...Ha! Great entry ~ Nadja

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  5. Rebecca,

    I dug this too, because you put your resources to work! Cholera was one of the first things I read about when I looked up a solid definition for "miasma," so to see you attack the confusion of disease-spreading is quite fitting! I found that was the hardest word to work into the piece!

    Great work!

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  6. Really original, great use of the words. Amazing the variety of responses to this challenge!

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  7. Rebecca, This is a really engaging first person narrator. The narrator's voice is pleasant, conversational and easy to follow. Reminds me of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for some reason.

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  8. Wow, like reading right out of an old newspaper. Very nicely done! ; )

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  9. You manage to make those words roll right off my tongue. Great job. Mine is #29

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  10. Excellent writing! Loved the conversation and the bit of wit that went with it. I'd totally read more into these characters.

    Great job, Rebecca! :)

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  11. Love the POV and the whole British feel of the story. Good use of words, too.

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  12. Well done. This has a different feel from the others, which is why I "like" it. Good luck, Rebecca!

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  13. I really enjoyed reading this. I'm a history nerd!
    Mine is #3.

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  14. Holmesian! Always one of my favorite types of stories. I love it.

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  15. Lovely. I thought of Holmes too when I saw the word 'miasma'. It always makes me think of Victorian London, all smoggy and coal dusted.

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  16. Yes, like so many of the others have said, this has a very different feel to it. Very well done, indeed!

    If you're interested in checking my entry out, it's #42.

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  17. This is easily the best entry I've read so far. I like your little aside to non-Challenge readers too!

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  18. Historically beautiful! Great work Rebecca! Bravo! Maybe I'm just partial to England! :P

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  19. Great word use! Really pulls everything together. And pleasingly snotty at times!

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  20. I like how you made it historical, it seems to fit the word choices better since nobody really speaks that way anymore. Nicely done!

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  21. Fantastic! Such a different take on the challenge than the other pieces I've read.

    Great job!

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  22. Very well done, indeed! I used the words in a sci-fi scene, but somebody did actually say they were Victorian words. Way to put them in their natural setting! I'm #34.

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  23. Original use of the words, focusing on the miasma rather than the Imago. I also like the 'Sherlock Homes' style of story.

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  24. I thought it was very clever to title it like a newspaper article!

    The Write Soil

    My post is #50.

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  25. I really enjoyed the history lesson! ;)

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  26. He was a clever chap and this was a clever piece of writing. Nicely done!

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  27. Well done. Reminded me of this great historical fiction I just read, DEADLY by Julie Chibarro.

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  28. Perfect British word choice and tone, plus the bits of Science, excellent job.

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  29. Lovely tone! The scientific wording makes our lovely word list just fit right in. ; )

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  30. This is so convincing, you almost had be believe it was a piece of scientific history. Infinitely better than my attempt. Wasn't Rachael cruel?! There’s a brand new award waiting for you on my blog. It’s a ‘thank you’ type of award :-)

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  31. Fab use of the words - very authentic! Takes me right back to my A Level history class :)

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  32. Very authentic and loved your choice of style and theme.

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  33. Took me back to my biology classes, lol...

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  34. Oooh! You. Are. So. Clever! Loved this....

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  35. Brilliant. Love you voice here and great use of these tough words.

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  36. Thank you all for your comments. I actually had no idea there were so many, but I really appreciate them. I was going to write some non fiction on the subject as we saw a documentary a while back. Instead I converted it into a story. As soon as I saw the word 'miasma' I knew I had to write this. Thank you all for visiting, I will visit all of your blogs as soon as I can.

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  37. Oh I really enjoyed this; and the voice:) Good Luck!!

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  38. I like that you converted it into a story. I've been educated and entertained at the same time, so thank you for that. The voice was so well crafted that like Nadja, I read it in a British accent. ;)

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  39. Thank you all for the comments on this. I love that you heard it in a British accent as well.

    When I was writing it, a posh man of around 50 years of age was dictating in my ear. Or so it seemed.

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  40. A new take on the challenge and a very interesting historical story. Very well done!

    #189

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