As we determine what we must do to contain the virus in the coming months — be it through masks and social distancing or new tests, treatments or vaccines — we should also look back, to the origins of public health and why some in this country have never entirely bought into the public health approach.
In the early 19th century, cholera wreaked havoc on the world. Cholera is caused by a toxin-producing strain of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Patients suffer from the sudden onset of diarrhea and vomiting. Their skin is cold and clammy, turns a bluish gray and their eyes are sunken. As quickly as the illness comes on, in the absence of treatment, the victims of cholera too often die.
The Atlantic Ocean initially protected the United States. But by early June 1832, cholera had reached North American shores, first touching down in Quebec City and