Health and Life expectancy
Throughout the Industrial Revolution, there were many diseases and illnesses, which were often created by and spread by unhygienic conditions. For example, water source, living spaces, food, etc. Despite these being the clear breeding conditions for germs, people, especially of the working class, were unaware until it was proven by research.
Anthrax was an illness that could be caught at the time. It is also known as Splenic Fever, which at first was spread from animal to animal. Mostly Goats, Sheep, and cattle.
Once the bacteria come into contact with air, it forms incredibly resistant spores. These can survive in suitable soils, before sickening another animal. The central time for this to happen is during grazing. The disease can then enter the body via animal products, direct skin contact, inhalation or consumption of infected meats or milk. The bacteria that was inside Anthrax was discovered by Robert Koch, in 1876. It was one of the first organisms to be identified. Later, in 1881, Louis Pasteur proved how Anthrax was spread, and then worked on creating a vaccine.
To do this, he gave 25 animals two shots of an Anthrax vaccine, which he had designed. It was made with weakened Anthrax bacteria. He then injected them with live Anthrax bacteria. With the same number of animals in an unvaccinated group, Louis injected them with live bacteria. In the end, all the vaccinated animals survived, whilst the unvaccinated died. In 1950, the first vaccine for humans was created. After volunteers, that had been vaccinated were followed around for two years, results showed that the vaccine was 92.5% effective in preventing Cutaneous Anthrax. There are three different types of Anthrax, Cutaneous, Pulmonary and Intestinal. The vaccine was then updated in 1970.
Leprosy was another disease that could be caught. It was also called Hansen’s disease. Named after Gerhard Henrick Armauer Hansen. Leprosy takes a slow time to affect the body.
To spread, it makes close and continuous human contact in unhygienic conditions. See Figures 1 and 2. In any form of Leprosy, the eyes are frequently affected, with a loss of movement and blink reflex. There is a painful inflammation, in some forms blindness may follow. Dr. Armauer Hansen was the first to see the Leprosy germ under a microscope.
From the early 1900s – late 1940s, leprosy doctors in Africa, Asia, the Far East, South America and elsewhere injected patients with oil from the Chaulmoogra nut. This treatment worked for some patients. In the 1970’s, there was a drug trial, which led to the combination of drugs used to treat Leprosy. The procedure could take from six months to a year or more. Leprosy passes from one person to another by the nasal passage, which was the frequent site for bacteria to grow. There are two main types of Leprosy, Lepromatous and Tuberculoid.
Measles was very common during the Industrial Revolution. It is a virus transmitted by direct contact with clothes or bedding. The measles was often confused with Smallpox. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, it was said that not many European children escaped exposure to the virus. Within ten days of the illness entering the body, a fever begins. Shortly after, ulcers appear in the mouth. These are also known as Koplik’s spots (after Henry Koplik, who formally associated them with the disease in 1896).
After four days of a fever, a red blotchy rash with red spots would appear on the skin. The outbreak usually spread from head to toe. A measles vaccine was created in 1960.
Most diseases would affect the working class regularly, compared to the Higher and middle class, as they weren’t as prone to infections. This is because they lived in more clean places, and had cleaner water. The percentage of deaths, from diseases, decreased from 74.5% in 1730-1749 to 31.8% in 1810-1830. This is due to people gaining knowledge of why people were becoming sick, and where it was mainly coming from.
- Williams, B n.d., Infectious Diseases in History, Department of Economic and Social History, N/A, accessed 12 March 2018, <http://urbanrim.org.uk/diseases.htm>.
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- Moh’d, D 2013, Health and Life Expectancy in the Industrial Revolution, Prezi, N/A, accessed 13 March 2018, <https://prezi.com/xh01bkvqycww/health-and-life-expectancy-in-the-industrial-revolution/>.
- Many Listed Authors. 2016, A History of Anthrax, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, N/A, accessed 13 March 2018, <https://www.cdc.gov/anthrax/resources/history/index.html>.