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How Plumbing (Not Vaccines) Eradicated Disease

Mar, 2018

Although the wonders of modern medicine have done much to help eradicate diseases such as cholera and polio, the importance of sanitation and plumbing should not be understated. The deeper you look into it, it is easy to see that the development of plumbing infrastructure was really the saving grace. Before plumbing was commonplace: sanitation in a house consisted of a basin, a jug to fill with water and a chamber-pot, at best and human waste was disposed of wherever possible, be that in streets, rivers or public places. Plumbers are the unsung heroes in this story, not only do they help eliminate disease, but they also prevent the very spreading of it in the first place.

The total lack of sanitation in urban areas calls for rats and other vermin, providing the perfect environment to spread disease. One of the most infamous plague’s is the Black Plague, which alone killed between 75 million and 200 million people, which was a total of one-third of Europe’s population. In areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor, disease spreads rapidly, whereas where sanitation and hygiene are above par, disease is rare.

During the mid-1800s, London was subject to an outbreak of cholera that claimed the lives of 500 people in just 10 days. A doctor who lived near the affected area sought to find the case of the outbreak and traced it back to a single water pump which all the victims had used. Years earlier, Dr. Snow had voiced his opinion that he believed diseases were able to travel through dirty water, this was disregarded at the time because there was a widely held belief that, ‘bad vapours’ caused disease. This time, Dr. Snow had tangible evidence and persuaded the local authorities to remove the handle of the pump, the cholera cases ceased immediately and due to this discovery, Dr. Snow is largely regarded as the father of epidemiology. 

Without advances in plumbing and plumbers themselves, Australian’s would still be battling deadly diseases such as polio and cholera. Relish in the fact that we have full access to proper sanitation and make sure you call a plumber when something is not working correctly. Here at Jetset Plumbing, we are passionate about keeping you and your family safe.