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May 18, 1907


JAMA. 1907;XLVIII(20):1668-1671. doi:10.1001/jama.1907.25220460024003

WATER AND DISEASE.  The causal connection between water and disease has been impressed on the human race by a series of tragic occurrences. Throughout the Middle Ages a common explanation of any sudden outbreak of epidemic disease was that "somebody had poisoned the wells," and this unhappy hypothesis often led to a destruction of life which was even greater than that caused by the original epidemic. The belief that certain outbursts of a specific disease were somehow associated with drinking water did not, however, become general until about the middle of the nineteenth century, when a number of facts hitherto seen through a glass, darkly, first came into clear view in connection with the causation of Asiatic cholera.

(a) Asiatic Cholera.  —This disease afforded an early and conspicuous demonstration of the relation between a specific disease and the use of a given water supply. The famous case of the "Broad Street Pump" in

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