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victorian england

Today, deaths from influenza, cholera, and tuberculosis are rare in England; however, in Victorian England, these diseases and many more health problems were widespread. Victorian England was a time of great change, socially, economically, and politically. From the rise of factories to increased urbanization, the lives of many Britons changed during the Victorian era. Ultimately, many facets of change led to the transformation – both positive and negative – of one aspect of every citizen’s life: health. Deadly epidemics became widespread, and workers and average citizens died from disease caused by increased environmental pollution. Yet, health reforms and advances in medicine occurred as well.
Due to more crowded conditions, epidemic diseases spread extremely quickly during in Victorian England. The life expectancy in Surrey at the time was 45, while in London it was 47 (“Health and Hygiene”). One major problem was poor waste removal: increased urbanization led to an increased flow of sewage, which flowed into over 200,000 waste pits and eventually, the Thames, a major source of drinking water. Charles Dickens said “We pour it (the filth) into the rivers flowing through our towns, and pollute them as never before…” (Allingham). Polluted water led to cholera and typhoid, which at the time was thought to be caused by bad smells. Increasing pollution of the Thames led to the “Great Stink” of 1858, which not only stunk but caused rapid bacteria growth and thus rapid spread of disease (“Health and Hygiene”). However, cholera and typhoid were not the worst of the epidemics as they were typically limited to contaminated water and poorer neighborhoods; diseases such as tuberculosis, typhus, and influenza had no geographical barriers. E...

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