The Liverpool England Typhus Epidemic of 1864.
The typhus epidemic is one of the thousands of such events which stain the pages of history, though this one is more in the dustbin. Typhus is one of those nasty diseases caused by Rickettsia prowazeki or typhi. Humans contract it from the bites of fleas, mites, ticks, or lice. It has common terms as louse fever or jail fever and can have a high death rate. Liverpool in the mid-nineteenth century was a location that has a steady occurrence of typhus. In 1864 the cases of typhus grew radically enough that the inhabitants of town called it an epidemic. The local Vestry authorities commissioned a doctor to present them with a report on the fever and its spread. The report of Doctor Buchanan was summarized in the Liverpool Mercury on January 25, 1865 (see clipping below). The report described the presence of a highly virulent fever that had caused numerous deaths. It is a curiosity that the report does not say how many were infected and how many had died. This omission is notable because on the same page of newspaper there is a report detailing "Social, Medical, and Criminal Statistics of Drunkeness" by Reverend John Jones which details the sad tales of dozen of deaths of people while drunk. (In one of those ironies within an an irony which often occur in Newsprint, there is a price list for sweet wines and vins de liqueur at James Smith & Company Wine Merchants adjacent to Jone's statistical report.) It is clear in the report that the medical officers of Liverpool were a diverse lot in whether they even tracked the number of fevers they treated, making estimation of the frequency impossible.
The typhus epidemic report provided much of the same kind of information that one hears in the briefings regarding our current pandemic. We learn that it ravages the young (those under 20) more heavily than any other age group. We find that the poor suffer most. We learn that in hospitals the death rate for those afflicted averages 14-15%. We find it occurs with highest frequencies during the final quarter of the year. Not knowing the cause of typhus the good doctor opines on the effects or lack thereof of drainage, crowding, intemperance, hygiene, diet, Irish heritage, and wealth. The good doctor concludes that the causes of typhus in Liverpool is due to "destitution, dirt and intemperance with overcrowding, and bad ventilation of streets and houses. There is not a single hint that the vectors of the disease were the results of all the parasite which thrive in such conditions. Hearing this the Vestry authorities voiced their concerns and promptly tabled the report as they considered it for two weeks and arranged for copies to be made available to the district medical officers. Nothing was to be done and so the do-nothings allowed the epidemic to continue.
Today the kitchen is my battlefield. I am preparing cheese pizza for my mother and taking the last of the onions and peppers and cooking them for storage in the freezer. In one of those incidents that you just have to laugh about, tiny ants invaded my kitchen and set up a bread line in my Spelt flour. I had six pounds of that delightful baking flour and the ants, who took Day one of my isolation to show up and start depleting my larder. Very funny. As my beautiful bride commented, "Adds protein!" You have to love her good sense.
The allergies are fierce today and we are supposed to reach 85 degrees. That will bring out all the blooms and set my eyes to watering. I will drop off pizza for my mother and then we will watch an old movie. Yesterday we say High Noon.
My helpful hint for today. To store your onions and peppers longer saute them and freeze them. I use them in sauces and other cooking. If those potatoes are about to go bad you can fry or mash them and use the freezer to extend their use lives. Try to cut down on the amount of garbage we produce. Be safe and remember to help one another.