The housing in the 19th century was incredibly bad. Many houses were poorly built, they were damp and unsafe. The rooms
did not have lights, no ventilation, and some rooms had to house ten people. This led to part of the spreading of diseases.
Many of the most common diseases that were going around during this period of time was cholera, typhoid and typhus. The life
expectancy of the people living in these areas was over 40 years old. The insides of the houses did not have furniture, the
families had a room each with one bed, which they all slept in together. Most houses had a fire place which was used for cooking
and drying. A table and a chair were usually located in the middle of the room. This is what most people called a house.
Spread of Cholera
Cholera was a highly infectious and often a fatal intestinal disease. The first outbreak occurred October 1831-1833.
The disease spread very rapidly killing twenty-two thousand people. The scariest part was how fast the disease could kill
someone. The symptoms began with an attack of violent diahorrea and vomiting followed by intense cramps in the arms, legs
and abdomen. Thirst and fever were also very common with this disease. After about three to twelve hours, the symptoms continued
rapidly, the skin became dry and a hazy blue or purple in color. The persons eyes sank in their sockets, their pulse was almost
impossible to feel, the voice became very hoarse. Death usually took place within a day sometimes a few hours. It was a very
serious thing, and if you had been experiencing any of the symptoms, chances are that you were not going to live much longer.
Another outbreak occurred in 1848-1849 in which 50,000 people lost their lives. The number was actually closer to 70,000.
Part of the reason the disease spread so rapidly was because of the unsanitary conditions. It was a very tragic time when
anyone in your family could just one day wake up and live for only one more day or worse, a few hours.
Health Improvements made in the 19th Century
Later in the 19th century efforts were being made toward improving the public health. Medical Officers were appointed and
helped improve the drainage systems, houses and streets. Two of the big medical advances during this time was the x-ray and
Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch led to the understanding that infections were caused by certain bacteria or germs. People
began to understand the importance of good hygiene.
Florence Nightingale went on a mission to try and improve the conditions of hospitals.
Joseph Lister discovered that many infections were caught during a persons surgery. To prevent this he began to sterilize
his equipment. This cut the amount of deaths caused by infections during an operation from 60% all the way down to 4%.
With these new understandings, a persons life expectancy began to increase, and the number of death rates slowly decreased.