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Book and Media Reviews
June 13, 2007

The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Fishbein Fellow.

JAMA. 2007;297(22):2529-2533. doi:10.1001/jama.297.22.2532

If you were to visit the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln's Inn Fields in London, you would find a portrait of John Snow, presumably the “patron saint” of surgery. A cursory inquiry would attest to the fact that Snow has traditionally been revered by surgeons because of his contributions to pulmonary physiology and, more importantly, his seminal role in the development of respiratory anesthesia. You might then wonder why Snow merits consideration with regard to a major infectious disease, cholera. In fact, Snow is also revered as the “patron saint” of epidemiology. In his introduction to Snow's second edition of On the Mode of Communication of Cholera,1 Wade Hampton Frost, the first US professor of epidemiology, described Snow's work in the following terms:

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