City officials eventually sided with Currie's contagionist theory and blamed the disease on emigres from another revolutionary locale, Saint Domingue.
In a passage from this text, the climatist and contagionist theories overlap as the title character walks through disease-infested Philadelphia: "Effluvia of a pestilential nature, assailed me from every corner.
This combination of prevention and control measures reflected the unresolved conflict between contagionist
views of cholera's causation.
For the contagionist
, Quentin's feverish shaking indicates that something has been passed to him from another person.
Ackerknecht suggested that authoritarian regimes that placed emphasis on the interests of the community and the state subscribed to the contagionist
thesis with its corollary of quarantine, while more liberal regimes with their stress on the primacy of individual freedom were anti-contagious and focused on the importance of sanitation reform.
30) Most nineteenth-century physicians embraced either the contagionist
(exotic, imported, spread by person-to-person contact) or the anticontagionist (endemic, spread by disease vector-to-person contact) theories of disease etiology.
It did not help the germ-focused contagionists
that their exquisite theory came with no new treatments, nor did it help that their successes were closely aligned with a kind of colonial triumphalism that relegated traditional knowledge to the realm of ignorant superstition.
Historians have tended to divide disease theorists into rival camps: miasmatists versus contagionists
The debate resolved itself into a contest between contagionists
, and an allegiance to one perspective or the other radically altered the way in which one understood the law as a valuable regulatory force.
The debate between contagionists
and anticontagionists around the time of the cholera epidemic of 1832 reflected competing views of political authority and economic freedom (the liberal elites associated quarantines with the arbitrary use of power in the Old Regime) but also the reality of social division and the possibility that coercive measures might provoke popular revolts.
By contrast, a new theory was advanced by contagionists
who believed that diseases were transmitted by specific germs.
Arguing against the contagionists
these doctors argued that it was vapors coming from feces, rotting carcasses of dead animals, garbage, and polluted water which seared the lungs of urban dwellers making them susceptible to disease.