|Description:||This cartoon, penned in 1888 for Life Magazine, symbolically illustrates the threat of a cholera epidemic rising up out of the London slums at that time, and crossing the Atlantic to threaten New York City, while “Science”, which is metaphorically depicted as a sleeping soldier on the docks, lies unaware of the impending doom.|
Cholera has swept around the World in seven massive waves, or pandemics, since 1800. Until 1991, the most recent wave of epidemic cholera to occur in the Western hemisphere was in the 1880s and 1890s, when it spread widely throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Contrary to the cartoon’s depiction of “Science”, asleep at the wheel, scientists woke up and made tremendous progress, and the 1888 epidemic never gained a foothold in New York City. The control of cholera in Europe and North America by improved water distribution and sewage collection systems, the “sanitary revolution”, is one of the great success stories of scientific public health.