Epidemics and international organisations
“How is it possible that the poorer classes can remain healthy…? What can one expect but that they should suffer from continual outbreaks of epidemics and an excessively low expectation of life?” Friedrich Engels
The 19th century witnessed major epidemics such as cholera, which caused millions of deaths in Europe and in Asia. The "Spanish flu" pandemic in 1918 caused more deaths than World War I. Other illnesses, such as tuberculosis, also had a devastating effect. Doctors and researchers worked to identify viruses (e.g. plague and tuberculosis bacilli), to find vaccinations (e.g. against rabies), to improve examination methods (e.g. auscultation, radiography) and to discover new drugs. Surgery progressed rapidly, thanks to new asepsis and anaesthesia techniques. The spread of scientific knowledge and education helped people to understand the importance of hygiene in fighting germs and contagion. Associations were set up to help people with diseases. The Red Cross was set up in Europe in 1864 to provide care for wounded soldiers regardless of country or rank. The Red Crescent was subsequently founded in Arab and Ottoman countries.
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Epidemics and international organisations
Médailles d'honneur d'or et de 1er mérite […] Biberon-Robert, flexible, patented […] Only the very best doesn't let your child go thirsty


National Library of France , Paris, France


In order to prevent contagion and infant diseases related to inadequate hygiene, doctors and hygienists worked to teach mothers new habits. Manufacturers adapted their products to the new hygiene rules.

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