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An analysis of The United States and United Kingdom smallpox epidemics (1901 to 1905) – the special relationship that tested public health strategies for disease control

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Brabin, Bernard (2020) 'An analysis of The United States and United Kingdom smallpox epidemics (1901 to 1905) – the special relationship that tested public health strategies for disease control'. Medical History, Vol 64, Issue 1, pp. 1-31.

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Abstract

Abstract: At the end of the nineteenth century the northern port of Liverpool had become the second largest in the United Kingdom. Fast transatlantic steamers to Boston and other American ports exploited this route, increasing the risk of maritime disease epidemics. The 1901-1903 epidemic in Liverpool was the last serious smallpox outbreak in Liverpool and was probably seeded from these maritime contacts, which introduced a milder form of the disease that was more difficult to trace because of its long incubation period and occurrence of undiagnosed cases. The characteristics of these epidemics in Boston and Liverpool are described and compared with outbreaks in New York, Glasgow and London between 1900 and 1903. Public health control strategies, notably medical inspection, quarantine and vaccination differed between the two countries and in both settings, were inconsistently applied, often for commercial reasons or public unpopularity. As a result, smaller smallpox epidemics spread out from Liverpool until 1905. This paper analyses factors that contributed to this last serious epidemic using the historical epidemiological data available at that time. Though imperfect, these early public health strategies paved the way for better prevention of imported maritime diseases.

Key words: smallpox, maritime, epidemic, public health, Boston, Liverpool.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 105 Epidemiology
WA Public Health > Statistics. Surveys > WA 900 Public health statistics
WC Communicable Diseases > Sexually Transmitted Diseases > WC 142 Public health control measures
WC Communicable Diseases > Virus Diseases > Infectious Viral Skin Diseases > WC 585 Smallpox
WC Communicable Diseases > Virus Diseases > Infectious Viral Skin Diseases > WC 588 Prevention and control
WC Communicable Diseases > Virus Diseases > Infectious Viral Skin Diseases > WC 590 Epidemics
Faculty: Department: Education
Digital Object Identifer (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1017/mdh.2019.74
Depositing User: Marie Hatton
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2020 13:49
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2020 13:49
URI: https://archive.lstmed.ac.uk/id/eprint/13184

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