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Second cholera pandemic (1829–51)

File:Cholera 395.1.jpg
Hand bill from the New York City Board of Health, 1832. The outdated public health advice demonstrates the lack of understanding of the disease and its causes.

The second cholera pandemic (1829–1849), also known as the Asiatic Cholera Pandemic, was a cholera pandemic that reached from India to Europe, Great Britain and the Americas.[1] Cholera caused more deaths, more quickly, than any other epidemic disease in the 19th century. It is exclusively a human disease, and it can spread through many means of travel such as by caravan, ship, and airplanes. Cholera is known most popularly to spread through warm fecal-contaminated river waters and contaminated foods. The causative microorganisms (Cholera vibrio) flourish by reaching humans. It is treatable with oral re-hydration therapy and preventable with adequate sanitation and water treatment.


Traces lead the historians believing that the first pandemic had lingered in Indonesia and the Philippines in 1830. Although not much is knows about the journey of the cholera pandemic in east India, many believe that this pandemic began, like the first, with outbreaks along the Ganges River delta in India. From there the disease spread along trade routes to cover most of India. By 1828 the disease had traveled to China and reached the southern tips of the Ural Mountains in 1829. On 26 August 1829 the first cholera case was recorded in Orenburg with reports of outbreaks in Bugulma (7 November), Buguruslan (5 December), Menselinsk (2 January 1830) and Belebeevsk (6 January). With 3500 cases including 865 fatal ones in Orenburg province, the epidemic stopped by February 1830.[2]

The epidemic reached Great Britain in December 1831: appearing in Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle. It swept across Europe for the first time during the second pandemic and reached as far west as the Caspian Sea. In London, the disease claimed 6,536 victims; in Paris, 20,000 died (out of a population of 650,000), with about 100,000 deaths in all of France.[3] In 1832 the epidemic reached Russia (see Cholera Riots), Quebec, Ontario, Detroit and New York. It reached the Pacific coast of North America between 1832 and 1834.[1] The pandemic prompted the passage of the landmark Public Health Act and the Nuisances Removal Act in 1848 in England.

In the summer of 1832, 57 Irish immigrants laying a stretch of railroad called Duffy's Cut, 30 miles west of Philadelphia, died.[4]

In 1829, Iran was apparently infected with Cholera from Afghanistan. It spread during the Moscow invasion in August 1830. By 1831 the epidemic had infiltrated Russia’s main cities and towns. Russian soldiers brought the disease to Poland in February 1831. There were a reported 250,000 cases of Cholera in Russia and 100,000 deaths.

Cholera was also reported in China in 1826 and 1835, and in Japan in 1831.


Norwegian Poet Henrik Wergeland wrote a stage-play inspired by the pandemic, which had reached Norway. In The Indian Cholera, he criticized British colonialism for spreading the pandemic.

As a result of the epidemic, the medical community developed a major advance, the intravenous saline drip. It was developed from the work of Dr Thomas Latta of Leith, near Edinburgh. Latta established from blood studies that a saline drip greatly improved the condition of patients and saved many lives by preventing dehydration. But, he was one of the many medical personnel who died in the epidemic.

Epidemics have not been seen in high-income countries since the early 20th century. However, the disease remains a major global threat. It is estimate to have 3-5 million cases and 100,000 – 200,000 deaths annually. Recently Africa has accounted for over 90% of cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) globally, with majority of the remaining cases reported from low to middle income countries in Asia and South America.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Cholera's seven pandemics". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. December 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
    Note: The second pandemic started in India and reached Russia by 1830, then spreading into Finland and Poland. A two-year outbreak began in England in October 1831 and claimed 22,000 lives. Irish immigrants fleeing poverty and the Great Potato Famine, carried the disease from Europe to North America. Soon after the immigrants' arrival in Canada in the summer of 1832, 1,220 people died in Montreal and another 1,000 across Quebec. The disease entered the U.S. via ship traffic through Detroit and New York. Spread by ship passengers, it reached Latin America by 1833. Another outbreak across England and Wales began in 1848, killing 52,000 over two years.
  2. ^ Charlotte E. Henze (15 December 2010). Disease, Health Care and Government in Late Imperial Russia: Life and Death on the Volga, 1823-1914. Taylor & Francis. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-203-83397-1. 
  3. ^ Charles E. Rosenberg (1987). The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866. University of Chicago Press. 
  4. ^ The Ghosts of Duffy's Cut. Praeger Publishers. 2006. ISBN 0-275-98727-2. In the summer of 1832, Irish immigrant Philip Duffy contracted 57 of his newly arrived countrymen to lay a stretch of railroad some 30 miles west of Philadelphia. Within two months, all were dead, struck down in the global cholera pandemic that hit Philadelphia the same time they did.