History of Epidemiology

Topics: Epidemiology, Germ theory of disease, Ignaz Semmelweis Pages: 2 (573 words) Published: August 11, 2011
The Greek physician Hippocrates has been called the father of epidemiology.[4] He is the first person known to have examined the relationships between the occurrence of disease and environmental influences.[5] He coined the terms endemic (for diseases usually found in some places but not in others) and epidemic (for disease that are seen at some times but not others).[6] Epidemiology is defined as the study of distribution and determinants of health related states in populations and use of this study to address health related problems. One of the earliest theories on the origin of disease was that it was primarily the fault of human luxury. This was expressed by philosophers such as Plato[7] and Rousseau,[8] and social critics like Jonathan Swift.[9] In the middle of the 16th century, a doctor from Verona named Girolamo Fracastoro was the first to propose a theory that these very small, unseeable, particles that cause disease were alive. They were considered to be able to spread by air, multiply by themselves and to be destroyable by fire. In this way he refuted Galen's miasma theory (poison gas in sick people). In 1543 he wrote a book De contagione et contagiosis morbis, in which he was the first to promote personal and environmental hygiene to prevent disease. The development of a sufficiently powerful microscope by Anton van Leeuwenhoek in 1675 provided visual evidence of living particles consistent with a germ theory of disease. John Graunt, a professional haberdasher and serious amateur scientist, published Natural and Political Observations ... upon the Bills of Mortality in 1662. In it, he used analysis of the mortality rolls in London before the Great Plague to present one of the first life tables and report time trends for many diseases, new and old. He provided statistical evidence for many theories on disease, and also refuted many widespread ideas on them. Dr. John Snow is famous for his investigations into the causes of the 19th century cholera...
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