Mead, Richard, 1673-1754. Short discourse concerning pestilential contagion, and the methods to be used to prevent it.
Plague -- France -- Marseille -- History -- 18th century.
Plague -- England -- Prevention.
Plague -- Etiology.
An epidemic of plague in Marseilles in 1720 and the fear that it would spread to England led to the passing of a new quarantine act. First, however, the government sought medical advice from Dr. Richard Mead (1673-1754), which took the form of A Short Discourse Concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Methods to Be Used to Prevent It. This tract was a contribution to the contagion concept of disease at a time when it had not yet become part of the medical mainstream as an explanation for certain epidemic diseases. Critical works appeared almost immediately attacking Mead's ideas. The Short Discourse went through nine editions, the last in 1744. In the last two editions there are further elaborations of his earlier views and references to Newton's Optics and the ether theory. Some of Mead's practical recommendations for dealing with the plague, should it enter the country, were relatively new. References to his plague tract appeared in a number of medical and nonmedical works well beyond his lifetime.
Mead, Richard; contagion; plague; Marseilles plague of 1720
Lying-In Hospital for Married Women (London, England)
Women's hospitals -- England -- London -- History -- 18th century.
Childbirth -- England -- London -- History -- 18th century.
This article uses previously untapped archival sources to revise the dominant, negative view of London's eighteenth-century maternity hospitals, by reconstructing daily life at the British Lying-in Hospital. Though the hospital in fact helped to support women's work as midwives, its institutional practices altered the experience of childbirth both negatively and positively, which inspired rumors, criticism, and inflammatory published attacks. The article illuminates how two unrecognized events in 1751—the hospital's first epidemiological crisis, and the arrival of a new man-midwife who used instruments—may have become intertwined in the public imagination and helped to shape the terrible reputation of lying-in hospitals, despite their overall positive eighteenth-century record.
Smallpox -- Vaccination -- New York (State) -- New York -- History -- 19th century.
Smallpox -- Law and legislation -- New York (State) -- History -- 19th century.
Public health laws -- New York (State) -- History -- 19th century.
Two major outbreaks of smallpox occurred in Brooklyn and New York around the turn of the twentieth century. Health officials moved aggressively to contain the disease, conducting mass vaccinations from house to house and in workplaces. Although these programs were ostensibly voluntary, the manner in which they were conducted was often coercive, giving many people the impression they had no choice but to submit. Officials portrayed their programs as voluntary because they lacked a clear legal basis for their actions and because they believed this was the most effective strategy for gaining public cooperation. This essay examines the events that surrounded a series of legal cases challenging the use of coercive measures to enforce vaccination during and after the smallpox epidemic of 1894, and the repercussions that this litigation had on disease-control efforts and popular attitudes toward vaccination and other measures. The cases described here were part of an extensive body of nineteenth-century jurisprudence on vaccination that was crucial for the evolution of public health police powers in general, and of vaccination policy in particular.
vaccination, smallpox, legislation and jurisprudence, New York
Childbirth -- England -- Lancashire -- History -- 20th century.
Working class -- Medical care -- England -- Lancashire -- History -- 20th century.
This article draws on oral history evidence and annual reports of the Medical Officers of Health for the communities of Barrow, Lancaster, and Preston to document the shift in the place and the managers of childbearing, from working-class homes and traditional midwives in the early twentieth century to hospitals and licensed midwives and physicians after World War II. It explores gender and class aspects of this transition, concluding that the medicalization of childbearing has had negative as well as positive results—not least of which has been the disempowerment of the working-class women who were traditional health authorities in their communities.
oral history, public health, pregnancy, childbirth, midwives, England
Kushner, Howard I.
Turner, Christena L.
Bastian, John F.
Burns, Jane C.
Kawasaki disease is a rash/fever illness of early childhood in which coronary artery aneurysms (CAA), sometimes fatal, may develop in up to 25 percent of untreated children. Because its etiology and pathophysiology are unknown and no diagnostic laboratory test exists, diagnosis is made via a list of clinical signs; however, a significant number of children fail to meet the clinical criteria and go on to develop CAA. We suspected a connection between these missed cases and the continuing difficulty in identifying the etiological agent(s) and mechanisms for CAA. In search of that connection, we launched a historical investigation into the institutionalization of the clinical criteria, and explored how this process influenced the framing of research questions. Our findings suggest that the canonization of the Kawasaki disease case definition was as much due to the enshrinement of the historical narrative as to compelling scientific findings. The Kawasaki disease narrative encompasses interrelated issues of definition, discovery, and naming; these, in turn, have profoundly influenced diagnosis, treatment, and research. "Atypical" cases, despite being at risk for CAA, often fail to receive prompt diagnosis and treatment; consequently, research has been limited to the population that meets the diagnostic criteria for Kawasaki disease, rather than including those who are at risk of CAA. Although clinical concerns prompted this investigation, it nevertheless has important implications for the history of medicine: it provides an illustration of how a historical interrogation of a syndrome's construction can free medical researchers to pursue novel approaches. Equally important, it demonstrates how historians can make unique contributions as collaborators in clinical care and medical research.